Cousteau Collaborations

by Claire Calcagno

Doc Edgerton’s fascination with underwater acoustical studies first began on a collaborative oceanographic project with Jacques-Yves Cousteau in the summer of 1953. Cousteau had contacted Edgerton because he needed improved lighting methods and cameras for his deep-sea investigations.
On their first expedition together, a recurring concern as they lowered the cameras and strobe lights to photograph the depths, was how to monitor the camera’s position in relation to the sea floor. Edgerton adapted a simple depth-sounder which he attached to the camera, and thereby greatly improved their photographic efforts. The sonar bottom signal would trigger the camera and lights; the echo could be read by the operator who would then know that the device was in the correct range. He called it a ‘pinger’.

Doc Edgerton developed a deep friendship with Commandant Cousteau since their first meeting at MIT in April 1952, and they continued working together into the 1980s on dozens of missions around the world.

Edgerton Lab Notebook 21, Page 41