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The life aquatic with Jean-Michel Cousteau

On Wednesday night, the talk at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts by famed oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau may begin with a splash.

In previous speeches, Cousteau, eldest son of undersea explorer Jacques, has recalled the time his father taught him to dive with an Aqua-Lung at 7 years old by tossing him off the Calypso research vessel and into the ocean.

Since then, the lecturer, documentarian and founder of Ocean Futures Society — created after Jacques died in 1997 — has produced some 80 environmental films, and has won an Emmy and a Peabody award. One of Cousteau's PBS documentaries, 2006's "Ocean Adventures: Voyage to Kure," prompted President George W. Bush to designate the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands as a Marine Protected Area by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Cousteau's appearance will cap the inaugural Fort Lauderdale Speaker Series, which organizer Donald Boyd calls "a season of intellectual entertainment." The series, begun in October, included radio host and activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., author and journalist Bob Woodward, former CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien and others.

"[Cousteau] talks about life with his father and about ocean conservation, about why we rely on them, particularly in South Florida," says Boyd, a part-time Boca Raton resident. "He also argues that if we don't keep oceans globally healthy, then we're in for a world of hurt."

Boyd says the speaker series will return in the fall, with former South African President F.W. de Klerk and four other to-be-announced figures.

Jean-Michel Cousteau will appear 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $35.04-$101.75. Call 954-462-0222 or go to

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