About The Cousteau Society
Retrospective of 1999 Accomplishments
The Cousteau Societys twenty-fifth year spilled over with activities, both on-going and initiative. Here is a condensed overview of the years highlights.
Alcyone arrived in Norfolk in April, for the first time since her maiden trans-Atlantic voyage of 1985. The ships crew, with the enthusiastic assistance of the US staff, welcomed the public to visit on board during her brief stay. She departed to begin her expedition in the St. Lawrence River, Canada. In October, at the conclusion of the first leg of the Canadian expedition, Alcyone returned to Virginia for maintenance.
The Society renewed its Dolphin Log in the Classroom program, sending tens of thousands of copies to schools throughout the US. Initiated in 1998, the program allows members to sponsor classrooms to receive the publication throughout an entire school year.
Editor Lisa Rao attended the annual International Reading Association convention, which draws over 10,000 teachers from all over the world. Sample issues of Dolphin Log were distributed to the teachers to familiarize them with the Dolphin Log in the Classroom Campaign. She traveled to the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve, in New Jersey, to discuss coordination of educational programs with the reserve and Rutgers University. The Society was subsequently a special guest at the national planning meeting of reserve administrators, hosted by the Jacques Cousteau Reserve.
The Society continued its outreach efforts by sending representatives to DEMA, the dive industrys annual international exhibition. The Societys display of current activities introduced the diving community to Cousteau resources for environmental education, including Calypso Log and Dolphin Log in the Classroom. Staffers elaborated on the information for visitors to the exhibit and strengthened the Societys network of contacts in ocean-focused industries.
Policy and Issues
Expanding the Societys long-standing involvement in marine mammal protection, researcher Clark Lee Merriam participated in the 7th annual Whales Alive Conference, a gathering of marine mammal scientists, researchers, environmentalists and, this year, representatives from indigenous peoples of the US. She also attended the 13th Biennial Conference on Marine Mammal Science, where she sat on a workshop panel to address marine-resource management and whale-watching.
Ms. Merriam and Washington representative Rick Schwabacher met with representatives of international NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and national governments in preparation for the 51st meeting of the International Whaling Commission. The Society initiated a new approach to communication with commercial whaling interests when, with the assistance of Washington attorney Jay Sterne and his firm, it organized a meeting of NGOs with Japanese IWC representatives. At the May meeting of Commissioners, as the Societys official observer, Ms. Merriam presented an opening statement calling for the relinquishment of obsolete whaling goals and a new focus on whale conservation.
Building on activities launched during the Year of the Reef (1997) and the Year of the Ocean (1998), the Society continued to work for the implementation of coral reef conservation measures. Cousteau Science Advisor Dr. Phillip Dustan, an expert on the Florida Keys, participated in two meetings of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, assembled in response to a Presidential directive to develop a national action plan to conserve coral reefs. In July, Dr. Dustan was invited to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee and, on behalf of the Society, submitted substantive recommendations on coral reef conservation measures to Congress. The Society also wrote to key House and Senate leaders on the need for legislation in this area and, with the Womens Aquatic Network (WAN), sponsored a symposium on Capitol Hill which included presentations on the state of coral reefs by Dr. Dustan and other experts. The Society also hosted a lecture with WAN by Dr. Rob Wilder on marine biodiversity issues. Dr. Wilder authored Listening to the Sea: The Politics of Improving Environmental Protection, published in 1998.
Mr. Schwabacher represented the Society at the 7th annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. This years meeting focused on ocean issues and the Society, along with other official NGOs, worked to emphasize the importance of coral reefs and marine biodiversity concerns.
~ Calypso Log celebrated the 25th anniversary of the founding of The Cousteau Society by including, in each issue, a special "Look Back" at a different subject that the Society explored in the past, along with an update of the subjects current status.
~ Baikal: Beneath the Mirror, the television film of the 1996 Cousteau expedition, was broadcast for the first time in the US by co-producer Turner Broadcasting Systems.
~ The Society mourned the loss of Advisory Council member and Nobel Prize-winning physicist Dr. Henry Kendall. As Advisory Council member, Dr. Kendall helped Captain Cousteau craft the Bill of Rights for Future Generations, the Ocean Policy Papers and position statements on nuclear power.
~ The Chesapeake headquarters of the Society hosted planning meetings for future Society activities, led by President Francine Cousteau.
~ Aqua (Hommage à Jacques-Yves Cousteau), an original work by composer Steve Heitzig, was premiered by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra in January. Mr. Heitzig, known internationally for his orchestral and chamber music, met Captain Cousteau in 1996, and wrote the symphonic tribute after the Captains death.
~ Vice President Finance Robert Steele and Science Advisor Dr. Phil Dustan accepted a major award honoring the work of Captain Cousteau from the Wyland Foundation, established by the internationally known muralist and sculptor to acknowledge ocean protection.
~ Mr. Steele and President Francine Cousteau were honored guests at a ballet and reception in Montreal to benefit the work of The Cousteau Society and to welcome Alcyone to the port.
~ National Geographic Explorers Hall opened its exhibit on underwater exploration, featuring a large display of Captain Cousteaus many contributions in technology, communication and conservation.