On the weekend just gone I held hands with the son of the legendary oceanographer, Captain Jacques Cousteau, and swam through the mythical Alice in Wonderland dive site off the island of Savusavu. Jean-Michel Cousteau, a French explorer, environmentalist, educator, film producer and first son of the ocean adventurer, was a true gentleman and an inspiration. He patiently spent hours with me, a novice diver, imparting his passion for this part of Fiji, which captured his heart 25 years ago and for his Ocean Futures Society. We dived from the resort that bears his name, Jean Michel Cousteau Fiji Island Resort with L’Adventure doing two magical dives – Alice in Wonderland and Mystery. Known as the “Soft Coral Capital of the World,” Fiji offers the largest variety of fish and coral anywhere in the world. Together with Jean Michel we spotted reef dwellers and large ocean pelagics (a class of fish that includes barracuda, tuna, sharks among the colorful reefs near the resort. Two days later we dived Namana, considered by Cousteau to be one of the top 10 dive sites in the world where we spotted grey reef sharks, a hawk bill turtle, schools of barracuda and an inquisitive sea snake.
On land the resort’s Bula Club and full-time marine biologist impart Cousteau’s passion for the ocean to adult and small guests through its excellent dive school, snorkelling expeditions, glass bottom boat rides and educational video presentations. To my great delight the Frequent Small Flyer (FSF) and Jean-Michel became fast friends and he helped her collect stamps (Coral Reef) for her Bula Passport. He also talked to her about meeting Nemo. In Disney’s DVD release of Finding Nemo, Cousteau makes an appearance interacting with the characters from the film, Marlin, Nemo and Dory, and touting the need for better pollution control, showing videos of sick coral reefs. As a I tuck her into bed each night after a fun-filled day with her Fijian nanny, Ella asks me to tell the story about diving underwater with Jean Michel and seeing Nemo. “Tell him we’ll take care of the sea,” she says earnestly. Cousteau has made another passionate young convert and I am thrilled his father’s legacy continues to the next generation.