20th Century Sea Exploration

In the 1920s naturalist and explorer, William Beebe attempted to tackle the next frontier of deep sea exploration. He and inventor Otis Barton teamed together and created an underwater vessel called the bathysphere. Although this spherical contraption was not ideal because it was so heavy, it was the start of a journey that inspired deep sea investigation for many later explorers, most notably Jacques Cousteau (1910-1997). Like Beebe, Cousteau was prolific in his work and perfected ways to journey deeper into the oceans with more sophisticated instruments and technology. He was dedicated to perfecting underwater diving techniques and together with Louis Gagnan, developed a new valve that allowed a diver to breathe air from a high pressure tank at the same pressure as the surrounding water. This valve, known as the ‘Aqualung’ and was the basis of SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) diving, which brought about a revolution in popular underwater exploration.   Jacques Coustea’s commitment to underwater exploration left a legacy of 120 documentaries, fifty books and an environmental protection foundation, Cousteau, whose aim is to protect and improve the quality of life and future generations.

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