Campus Life

Ocean explorer Fabien Cousteau visits UWF

More than 100 people attended a presentation by French aquatic filmmaker and oceanographic explorer Fabien Cousteau, the grandson of the legendary researcher and underwater filmmaker Jacques-Yves Cousteau. He explained some of the challenges faced in keeping the earth’s marine ecosystems healthy and shared his love of diving with students, faculty, staff and the public on Tuesday, Nov. 16 in the UWF Commons Auditorium.

“Water connects everything,” Cousteau said. “The ocean makes up 99 percent of the total living space on this planet.”

Cousteau went on to share stories of threatened and endangered species, including the great white shark, of which he said there are only about 3,500 left. Goliath grouper are also a species in danger and one that inhabits the coasts of Florida. Cousteau’s family filmed a documentary series for PBS called Ocean Adventures, and one episode was devoted to this fish species that is native to Florida waters.

The speaking engagement was part of the John C. Pace Jr. Symposium series, designed to bring distinguished scholars, artists and leaders to Pensacola for lectures, performances and a variety of interactions with faculty, students, staff and the public.

Students from the UWF Scuba Club were particularly interested in the lecture, and Cousteau shared a variety of photos, video and stories of his numerous diving experiences.

“My grandfather threw me overboard literally on my fourth birthday, and I’ve been in love with the ocean ever since,” Cousteau said. “Anytime I’m asked ‘What’s your favorite dive?’ I say the next one is my favorite, because there’s always a surprise around the next corner.”

Ryan Saylor, a graduate student in biology at UWF, was enthusiastic to learn from Cousteau.

“In this field, we’ve all referred to Jacques Cousteau at one time or another, like ‘Oh, you’re a regular Jacques Cousteau,” Saylor said. “To meet somebody that has influenced me to the point where I’m at now as a master’s student is really neat.  How can a Pennsylvania boy like me end up 10 years later studying marine science in Florida? It’s because of guys like him.”

Cousteau also offered advice for attendees who want to do more to protect the ocean and its ecosystems.

“Download a seafood watch card for free, or stop using single-use plastics,” he said. “At least vow to use one less plastic per day. We throw away 2.4 million pounds of plastic per hour.”

To learn more about Fabien Cousteau, visit For more information about the John C. Pace Jr. Symposium series, visit

By Kelly Russ, University Communications