Cousteau, author of 50 books and maker of more than 120 documentaries, became the popular face of ocean exploration. Sailing the globe in his iconic Calypso boat, the Frenchman inspired explorers and would-be documentary makers everywhere.
"He shared his passion for the liquid abyss with hundreds of millions around the world," Cousteau's grandson, ocean filmmaker Fabien Cousteau, told The Christian Science Monitor.
Cousteau's ground-breaking documentaries on ocean wildlife earned him a string of accolades and awards. His 1956 movie "The Silent World" garnered him his first Oscar, though two more were to follow. He also won the prestigious Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival for "The Silent World," and his TV series "The Cousteau Odyssey" gained two nominations for Emmy Awards.
In 1985, President Ronald Reagan awarded Cousteau the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian accolade in the United States.
Today, Google reworked its familiar search engine logo into the shape of a deep-sea diver in honor of the Frenchman, according to Agence France-Presse. Earlier this week, the U.S. Congress passed a motion honoring him, Reuters reported. Fans are also working to raise the 8 million euros needed to restore the Calypso, currently docked in Brittany, France, to its former glory.
Cousteau was born on June 11, 1910, in southwest France. He learned how to use a camera early in life, but his real breakthrough came at the age of 33 when he invented a device that would let divers swim deeper into the ocean -- the aqua lung. His breakthrough was the ability to regulate the amount of air that passed to the diver, extending the length of possible dives. At a stroke, modern scuba diving was born.
The invention gave divers the "freedom of flight underwater," Fabien Cousteau told The Christian Science Monitor.
Cousteau died in 1997, but his work still may be finding new fans through a range of pop-culture references.
Bill Murray's 2004 film "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" is a humorous homage to Cousteau's life and work. His name is also dropped in "Da Mystery of Chessboxin," a song by hip-hop outfit Wu-Tang Clan.
"Capt. Cousteau left in the collective memory the image of a man who loved life, nature, the water," his widow, Francine Cousteau, told Reuters.