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03-02-1953

Cousteau publishes The Silent World

French oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau publishes his most famous and lasting work, The Silent World, on this day. While in the French navy, he and engineer Émile Gagnan invented the Aqua-Lung, the world's first self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba). In 1953, he published The Silent World, written with Frédéric Dumas, and began work on a film version of the book with director Louis Malle. Three years later, The Silent World was released to world acclaim. The film, which revealed to the public the hidden universe of tropical fish, whales, and walruses, won Best Documentary at the Academy Awards and the Palme d'or at the Cannes Film Festival. Cousteau later led numerous excursions to the world's great bodies of water, from the Red Sea to the Amazon River. In addition to many books, he also produced several more award-winning films and scores of television documentaries about the ocean.