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  1. Life & Culture

Looking Back: St. Petersburg does the Calypso with Jacques Cousteau (July 15, 1975)

Jacques Cousteau (center), Sen. John T. Ware, R-St. Petersburg (left) and an unidentified man (right) speak to the media about potentially moving the Cousteau Society to the city of St. Petersburg.

TIMES | Weaver Tripp
Jacques Cousteau (center), Sen. John T. Ware, R-St. Petersburg (left) and an unidentified man (right) speak to the media about potentially moving the Cousteau Society to the city of St. Petersburg. TIMES | Weaver Tripp
Published Jun. 22, 2017

This story appeared in the pages of the St. Petersburg Times on July 15, 1975. What follows is the text of the original story, interspersed with photos of the event taken by Times staff photographer Weaver Tripp.

Cousteau's Move here still afloat

By Dick Bothwell

Times staff writer

Like two spaceships coming ever closer to a linkup, the Cousteau Society and the City of St. Petersburg maneuvered about at The Pier Monday afternoon in an unchartered sea of great expectations.

When they were done, the possibilities of a mutually beneficial union looked even better than before. But there's a big IF – financing.

TIMES | Weaver Tripp

TIMES | Weaver Tripp

Star of the occasion was Jacques Cousteau, noted oceanographer, whose research vessel, the Calypso, has called St. Petersburg home since February. With the slender, silver-haired Frenchman was Fred Hyman, president of the 80,000-member non-profit society, presently based in Westport, Conn.

The two flew to St. Petersburg Sunday to have a look at the Calypso, now in a Tampa shipyard for bottom painting, before the vessel's departure for Jamaica at the end of the week.

TIMES | Weaver Tripp

TIMES | Weaver Tripp

The mood on The Pier's third level was harmonious and hopeful as Cousteau and Hyman discussed possibilities with City Manager Raymond E. Harbaugh and Sen. John T. Ware, R-St. Petersburg, who has been instrumental in seeking to have the society permanently based here.

TIMES | Weaver Tripp

TIMES | Weaver Tripp

"This place has always been attractive to me," said Cousteau. "We like the city; we like the people very much. We thought this was an ideal place to create a research center, a model in the fields of saving energy and water.

"But even a limited project such as I propose is going to coast a lot of money; the initial investment will be heavy."

TIMES | Weaver Tripp

TIMES | Weaver Tripp

TIMES | Weaver Tripp

TIMES | Weaver Tripp

The oceanographer said his group envisions a waterfront location that would include three basic structures – a "museum of the future" exhibit hall including a theatre, a laboratory and office building and a warehouse – plus parking facilities.

Hyman said that plans have not yet been drawn for the facility, however, and he does not know what construction costs would be.

Neither Cousteau nor Hyman would give a specific cost estimate, and no one mentioned a possible source or sources of the funds.

TIMES | Weaver Tripp

TIMES | Weaver Tripp

Both Cousteau and Hyman emphasized that the exhibit hall would be something special as a visitor attraction.

"It probably would not have live animals," said Cousteau. "We are becoming more and more opposed to showing animals in captivity. Zoos are becoming anti-educational; that is not the way animals live."

"The exhibits," said Hyman, "would include a great deal of audio-visual, including laser-beam demonstrations. And the building would be a self-contained living unit, with its own solar and wind power plus a closed plumbing system which would enable use of recycled water."

The facility, he said, would be far more than a typical research operation; more stress would be laid upon evaluation, upon "how a thing affects our lives."

Cousteau Society officials now will prepare a statement of requirements that will give the city's task force something to go by in its site search.

TIMES | Weaver Tripp

TIMES | Weaver Tripp

In other comments, Cousteau told listeners that he disliked the concept of the hugely successful film "Jaws," dealing with shark attack, as unnatural and distorted.

"No animal," he said, "has evil intent except mankind. I have had thousands of shark contacts; it is not terrifying. 'Jaws' contributes to a very bad trend, of man thinking he is fine but animals are not."

Questioned about Red Tide, the oceanographer said: "We can't do much about it. Red Tide was there since the beginning of the world, will be there until the end of the world."

To order reprints, license or download any Times image from this gallery, or to see other Jacques Cousteau photos, please visit the Times image archive.

Jeremy King

Twitter: @TBTimesArchive

e-mail: jking@tampabay.com