NORWALK, Conn. -- After graduating Weston High School in 1973, Richard Hyman met Jacques Cousteau and got a chance over the years to take several expeditions with the famous undersea explorer aboard his research vessel Calypso.
Hyman, a longtime Weston resident, recounts his experiences in his book, "Frogmen: The True Story of My Journey with Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau and the Crew of Calypso." At a recent talk at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, Hyman discussed life aboard Calypso and the expeditions he went on with Cousteau and his crew.
"I wanted to do my little part to keep Cousteau's memory alive, particularly for the youngsters that might have never heard of Jacques Cousteau," Hyman said. "If I can reach some of them, it's a way to carry on his legacy."
His father was a business partner of Cousteau's. After traveling to Los Angeles to meet with the explorer after high school, he was invited to drive a supply truck from California to Saskatchewan, where Cousteau's crew was working on a documentary about beavers. He went on three expeditions aboard Calypso over the next six years, including trips to document spiny lobsters off the coast of Mexico, journeys to the Belize Barrier Reef, and diving down to the wreck of the USS Monitor off the coast of North Carolina.
During his journeys on Calypso, Hyman took part in dives, as well as working as a steward and deck hand, and earning college credit. He was on-board for a visit from musician John Denver, who performed for the crew, and when news broke that Cousteau's son, Philippe, had been killed in a plane crash. One of the most memorable parts of his time on the vessel was the crew made up of scientists and filmmakers from all over the world. He said it gave him a chance to learn about different nationalities.
"I think he opened millions of people's eyes to the undersea world," Hyman said. He wanted to help share Cousteau's message of protecting the oceans, as well as hopefully inspire others to take part in their own adventures.
He said his most meaningful memories of Cousteau are simply standing watch with him at night aboard the deck.
"It didn't happen too often, he would not normally be on watch, but I had a few occasions," Hyman said. He also learned the value of dedication and hard work from Cousteau. "Those were special moments."