This is the second episode in Richard Hyman’s recollections of his adventures traveling with Jacques Cousteau and the crew of the Calypso.

I call it a mini-expedition. Over 1974’s Thanksgiving break, my freshman year of college. I flew to Panama City, Florida where I first saw Jacques Cousteau’s famed research vessel Calypso.

seeing calypso, jacques cousteau, richard hyman,

I had the choice of sailing to take water samples in the Gulf, or joining a dive team bound for inland warm springs, shallow rivers and manatees. Despite the allure of Calypso, it was an easy decision. Without even setting foot on Calypso, I was off, to dive with soon to be friend and mentor Bernard Delemotte, and others.


Stone Crabs

crab, jacques cousteau, richard hyman, seeing calypsoWhen we returned to the Gulf, we boarded two stone crab boats. Shockingly, with our cameras rolling, the fishermen removed both claws, from males and females, not only breaking the law but also sentencing the crabs and their families’ legacies to death. The law required that males were to have only one claw removed, as it will regenerate. Females were not to be touched.

However, they were a very fun bunch of guys and I still remember a particularly raucous dinner that we had with them.


Flying with NASA

red hat, jacques cousteau, richard hyman, space center, astronauts, nasaA month later I flew through Miami, where I rendezvoused with Dr. George Low, the Deputy Administrator of NASA, and together we went on to Cozumel, Mexico. “Phoenix”, the new chopper flew us on to Isla Contoy (Contoy Island). The previous helicopter, Felix, had fallen overboard some months earlier.

George was a driving force in the Apollo moon landing program. He was a true gentleman and passed way too young, at age 58. It happened to be the 15 year anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch, bound for the first landing of men on the moon.

His visit aboard Calypso further advanced an already solid collaborative relationship between Cousteau and NASA. Interestingly, some 20 years later, a Cousteau red cap flew in space atop a U.S. Astronaut. See our Blue Ocean article tracing the legacy of Cousteau’s famous red dive cap. The Incredible Story Beneath Jacques Cousteau’s Famous Red Hat


Marching with Lobsters

spiny lobster artwork, jacques cousteau, richard hyman,Well, that was the plan. It was as simple as a north wind and presto; thousands of spiny lobsters would appear in front of our cameras, marching in single file. Not so. It was a time before the Internet. Our research was a bit by the seat-of-the-pants, often reliant upon local legend.

The lobsters did eventually come. Well sort of, but it took weeks of waiting. That’s expensive, when you have a full crew but it was sort of fun for me. I got to camp on the island and assist Dr. William Herrnkind with his research. Bill got his Ph.D. from “The U” and was a Professor at rival FSU and a specialist on the Caribbean spiny lobster, Panularis argus. As always, Cousteau brought aboard one of the finest on set, jacques cousteau richard hymanexperts on the planet so they could help educate him and his television audience.

Eventually a storm did get the queues in gear. But it also stirred up the sea floor, enough that clear filming was not possible. We got what we could and then decided to move on and sail south to Belize. Cousteau improvised and that autumn sent a small team to the Bahamas, to capture more footage in clear waters, ultimately finishing the film The Migration of the Spiny Lobster.

Upcoming Adventures in Future Episodes

In the next episodes Richard will talk about diving on the Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest reef in the world, filming spawning grouper, John Denver’s visit and concert aboard Calypso, and the story about when he got his own red cap. More adventures will follow, such as searching for the wreck of the USS Monitor in deep, rough waters off North Carolina, sailing to Martinique and diving on sunken shipwrecks.

FROGMEN_book_cover, Richard Hyman, Jacques cousteau, ocean author,

The True Story of My Journeys

In 2011, Richard published FROGMEN: A fascinating first-hand account of his experiences aboard the Calypso. It is the inspiring story of a young man who pays homage to one of the greatest explorers and visionaries of all time. You can find your copy at, available in eBook and softcover. For direct shipment of signed books contact Richard at or check out Richard’s website at:

By Richard Hyman, contributor to Blue Ocean Network



See these Blue Ocean Posts for more on Cousteau and other authors:

Inside The World of Jacques Cousteau: Episode I – Meeting The Captain
The Incredible Story Beneath Jacques Cousteau’s Famous Red Hat
An incredible Follow-Up to Jacques Cousteau’s Famous Red Hat
Caught in the Same Net: The Ocean and Us – Carl Safina
Hold onto Your Armchair! A Gripping Adventure To Ocean Country
A Sweet Spot in Time – Dr. Sylvia Earle
We Protect What We Understand – Jean-Michel Cousteau
Dive Resorts as Guardians of the Sea – Stan Waterman
Blue Mind Author Talks Turtle and Changes the Conservation Conversation.
Leadership in the Blue Frontier – David Helvarg
In Honor of the Captain’s Birthday, It’s Time To Bring Out Your Inner Cousteau
Cities Under the Sea – Dr. Richard Murphy