Remembering the Undersea World

Everybody experiences what I like to call “Ah-Ha” moments; those events or experiences that change your thinking or perspective regarding the world around you. If we are lucky, and if our minds are open to them, we can all experience many such moments.

Sometimes those moments happen during real-life experiences, such as a vacation or a particularly fascinating class at school. I was fortunate to see, albeit from a long distance, an Apollo moon rocket launch when I was a child. That opened my mind up to outer space.

I also took several environmental science classes in college. They taught me how to look more closely at the world around me. You could say it left me more grounded, literally.

But when I watch the video of life on the rocky reefs off the North Carolina coast, I think back to one of my “Ah-Ha” moments that got me interested in science and a career in television. It came from a television program I watched when I was in elementary school titled The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.

The underwater adventures of Jacques Cousteau and the crew of his ship Calypso riveted me, along with millions of others. The television series ran for a decade, starting in 1966. Cousteau was a pioneer of marine biology as well as the technology involved in underwater exploration. The program was groundbreaking, bringing the wonders of the world’s oceans into homes for the first time.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but perhaps the most amazing thing about the program was that it was the first underwater documentary ever filmed. That meant Cousteau and his crew wrote the rules as they went along.

I remember how the programs were always respectful and even displayed a reverence for nature, no matter where divers were exploring. And the Calypso crew explored every corner of the world’s oceans: from sharks in the Red Sea to penguins in the Antarctic to whales in the largest oceans. I still remember hearing the songs of the whales to this day.

As I look back, the program had a profound impact on me. It not only revealed amazing parts of our world, but it also fueled in me a love of science and nature.

Sadly, Captain Cousteau died in 1997 at age 87, but his sons are continuing his legacy or exploration. Find out more about the Cousteau Society here.

However you find them, I hope everyone can have similar “Ah-Ha” moments.

- Frank Graff

Frank Graff is a producer/reporter with UNC-TV, focusing on North Carolina Science Now, a weekly science series that airs Wednesdays, beginning in August 2013, as part of North Carolina Now on UNC-TV. In addition to producing these special segments, Frank will provide additional information related to his stories through this North Carolina Science Now Reporter's Blog!

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