Travel Tips

Jean-Michel Cousteau, Gulf Oil Spill & What You Can Do

Jean-Michel Cousteau & the Gulf Oil SpillLast weekend, while broadcasting from Gulf Shores, Alabama, Peter spoke with Jean-Michel Cousteau, environmentalist, ocean explorer and filmmaker.  

Find out what the son of the late Jacques Cousteau has to say about the long-term effects of the oil spill, and what needs to happen next in order to solve this problem.

Peter Greenberg: Whenever I want a reality check about what’s really going on in our oceans, I check in with Jean-Michel Cousteau. You’ve been down to the Gulf Coast, so give me your report on what you’ve been seeing.

Jean-Michel Cousteau: We were there in the middle of the catastrophe. I went about a month ago, and I returned about a week ago. We have plans to go back there soon. The environmental disaster we’re observing is on the surface; what we have yet to measure is the disaster within the water column… things we don’t see. The chemicals that have kept a lot of the oil below the surface will more than likely have very dramatic consequences long-term.

Jean-Michel Cousteau scuba-diving It’s affecting plankton, and the animals that feed on the plankton, and all the way up the food chain. Let’s not forget this is reproduction time; the dolphins have given birth just recently, and they breastfeed just like humans. Here they are bathing in oil and feeding their babies milk that is obviously mixed up with oil and chemicals. We have some major, major environmental issues besides the effect that it’s having on tens of thousands of people.

PG: You see those haunting images of birds covered in oil, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Find planet-friendly adventures in our Eco-Travel section.

JMC: Yes, it is. One has to understand that we need to take action. It’s not time to point fingers. It’s time to put into place every possible technology of solutions, and we need to do it very quickly. We need to add to the cleanup efforts and remove the oil and chemicals that are in the Gulf.

Jean Michel Cousteau DivingPG: For those who are eager, anxious and willing to help, is there anything we can do as civilians?

JMC: We really need to tell our decision-makers that we need action. Time is of the essence. This not only affects millions of birds and creatures, it also affects people who completely depend on the Gulf for their living. I’ve been there and the stress you can see in the faces of some of the people, particularly fishermen, is absolutely shocking. We need to do everything in our power to take action, to cut through the red tape of commissions and meetings that are taking place on an ongoing basis.

PG: Are you saying the government is responding too slowly?

JMC: Both the government and the industry. They are in meetings about the same thing, and it just goes on and on. Enough.

By Peter Greenberg for Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio. Photos by Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society.

For more on the situation in the Gulf of Mexico, don’t miss Peter’s radio show from Gulf Shores, Alabama. Listen to the show online here: