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SIMPLY JESSICA: Richard Murphy discusses legendary oceanographer Jacques Cousteau

Richard Murphy is enamored with the ocean. He likes to surf, fish and dive.

He grew up in Long Beach listening to his father, a deep-sea diver; tell countless stories about the ocean. He remembers seeing the ocean through his father’s eyes in the 1950s. But it’s the weird creatures that live in the ocean that fascinate him.

“The ocean is so interesting to me,” Murphy, director of science and education at Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society, said. “I love everything about the ocean. I am in awe of it in every way.”

Leafy sea dragons, seahorses, coral reefs and creating a sustainable ecosystem are just a few of the reasons why Murphy pursued marine biology as a career. He continues to love everything about ocean life.

He worked with legendary oceanographer Jacques Cousteau in 1968 as the science guy who made sure all the scientific facts were correct. He was supposed to work with Cousteau for six months, but it turned into 45 years.

Richard Murphy
Richard Murphy

Both Murphy and Cousteau were curious thinkers who wanted to learn as much as they could about ocean life.

“Jacques was an adventurer,” Murphy said. “He was a pioneer that was willing to push the envelope and do things that had never been done before. In some cases, he would do things that no one had even thought about.”

“I had the good fortunate to be the science guy,” Murphy said. “I was the guy who decided what scientific question we would ask on the different science expeditions. It was the most enriching experience of my life to work with Jacques Cousteau.”

How did such an enriching experience come about for Murphy?

“If you want the dream job, be prepared and work hard,” he said. “Be confident and patient. I was at the right place at the right time.”

Murphy needed something to do with his graduate degree in marine biology. He met some people who knew the Cousteaus. Murphy can’t imagine doing anything else with his life.

“It worked out well,” Murphy said. “I get paid to travel the world to create programs, go on exciting expeditions. It’s a pretty good life.”

This ocean addict who goes surfing and mountain biking everyday believes that being totally immersed in an ecosystem changes your perspective on the world. He lives in a cabin in the woods.

“In the 70s, I lived on an island for a month with Jean-Michel Cousteau (son of Jacques Cousteau),” Murphy said. “It was a transformative experience. We were able to dive everyday.”

In addition to diving, they went into the ocean to catch their food.

Be yourself! I’m Simply Jessica JcAden. You can reach me at jess.gosnell@gmail.com.