“There are billions and billions of dollars worth of treasure in our seas.”
When you’re born a Cousteau, saltwater inevitably runs through your veins. For Philippe (grandson of Jacques) and his wife, Ashlan, that connection to the ocean has taken them on dives around the world in search of the sea’s deepest secrets. Now activists, environmentalists, and explorers, the two unearth those mysteries as hosts of the popular Travel Channel show Caribbean Pirate Treasure (the second season is airing right now!). Here, the adventurous hosts dish on the Cousteau legacy, their most valuable underwater find, and—yes—exactly where you might be able to dig up some pirate treasure of your own.
Tell us how you two met.
Ashlan Cousteau: Philippe was giving a speech in Los Angeles about the BP Oil Spill, right after he went diving in it [Philippe was the first to do so], and I was invited to his speech through a friend. When Philippe walked into the room, our eyes met and that was it. We have been together ever since.
What’s the most amazing thing you’ve seen while diving together?
AC: We had only been dating for a few weeks when Philippe asked what I wanted for my 30th birthday. When I proclaimed I wanted to go diving with Great White sharks, Philippe almost fell out of his chair with surprise. So I got certified and we headed down to Guadalupe Island, off the coast of Mexico. Being underwater at 60 feet, surrounded by eight gigantic female Great Whites, really changes everything about life. They are beautiful, graceful and very curious. And when your eye meets the eye of an 18-foot-long Great White shark, you have this connected experience of respect and awe for these incredible apex predators. I can still remember it like it was yesterday.
What's your show, Caribbean Pirate Treasure, all about?
AC and Philippe Cousteau: We dive into pirate legends, maritime history and search for lost treasure. From looking for the truth behind Gasparilla to helping the Peruvian Navy recover priceless bronze canons, we take you on an incredible adventure over land and under the sea. (Catch it Wednesdays at 10/9CST!)
What’s the coolest piece of treasure you’ve found?
AC and PC: This season we found the first canon ever from a ship that sank off the coast of South America in the 1700s. It was a dangerous mission as we were in waters that are thriving with modern day pirates. The find was incredible and now that country can start a full excavation of the site to reclaim the history that was thought to be lost forever.
For the aspiring treasure hunters, where are we most likely to find hidden pirate treasure?
AC and PC: There are billions and billions of dollars’ worth of treasure out in our seas. But, if you live along the coast in Florida, the most likely place you will find treasure is right on your local beach. Coins wash up all the time, especially after storms.
Related: Meet Our 2017 Ocean Heroes:
Philippe, how has your grandfather’s legacy influenced you?
PC: My grandfather believed in what he called the ‘high adventure of exploration.’ One of the things I love about Caribbean Pirate Treasure is that it has given me a chance to connect with his legacy in new ways. He searched for treasure himself and pioneered underwater archeology. He loved a good mystery as much as the next person. Exploring the history of these stories is an amazing adventure that I know he would have loved as much as I do.
Lastly, what is one thing you wish everyone would do to help make the oceans cleaner and healthier?
AC and PC: Our oceans are facing a number of serious threats from plastic pollution, to ocean acidification, to over fishing. These may seem like really big global issues that no one person can fix, but our daily actions do make a difference. Something that everyone can do is cut down on their own single-use plastic products. For example, instead of buying plastic bottles of water, we fill up reusable cups. We say no to plastic straws (Americans use 500 million plastic straws every single day!) and bring our own bags to the grocery store. Based on researchers' calculations, 5 to 13 million metric tons of plastic make it to our oceans every year. Cutting out even one plastic bottle, one straw, or one plastic bag does make a difference!