Jean-Michel Cousteau: Use of Oil Dispersants in Gulf ‘A Mistake’

BY Hari Sreenivasan  June 2, 2010 at 9:31 AM EDT

The Rundown caught up with ocean explorer and occasional PBS host Jean-Michel Cousteau to chat about what his team discovered on dives last week into the Gulf of Mexico oil leak.

Cousteau, founder of the Ocean Futures Society and son of another famous explorer Jacques Cousteau, spoke with us Monday from the bridge of the cruise ship m/s Paul Gauguin somewhere between the Cook Islands and Bora Bora.

Cousteau discussed the controversial use of dispersants to break up the oil:

“To add another chemical to the ocean, I think has some long-term consequence which we are not even aware of what it’s going to do. Personally, I think it was a mistake. We are much better equipped to capture oil at the surface provided that the weather allows that to happen.”

Cousteau said the smaller particles of oil are sneaking under booms set up along the coast seeping into marshland and killing it. It’s creating a “monumental problem” that’s effecting millions of birds, not to mention plankton — the foundation of the marine food chain.

He also spoke about the risks that his divers took to get the underwater views of the oil spill.