Americas

Philippe Cousteau's close encounter with great white sharks

Updated 6:15 AM ET, Mon September 17, 2012
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Philippe Cousteau is an environmental advocate who heads the non-profit organization EarthEcho International. At the beginning of September he led a cage diving expedition near Guadalupe island, off the coast of Mexico, to educate people about great white sharks. Courtesy: Michael Muller
Phillippe Cousteau: "Most people think the only good shark is a dead shark -- actually for healthy oceans sharks are really important." Courtesy: Michael Muller
Phillippe Cousteau: "People don't understand that sharks have the same purpose in the ocean as top predators on land, like lions and wolves. They basically keep the whole food chain healthy -- once you remove them the food chain beneath them tends to collapse." Courtesy: Michael Muller
Phillippe Cousteau: "On TV you mostly just see jaws and claws -- you see them biting things and attacking things at the surface. What you don't see is that most of the time they are very majestic graceful, beautiful creatures." Courtesy: Michael Muller
Phillippe Cousteau: "Being in the water with great whites is one of those bucket list experiences in life. For me, great white sharks are the ultimate symbol of the power of the ocean and how we should respect it and treasure it." Courtesy: Michael Muller
Phillippe Cousteau: "Don't beleive in the media hype. The only time we really hear about sharks is whene there;s an attack. People can think passed the knee-jerk reaction of being afraid, and just be willing to understand and appreciate these animals for what they are." Courtesy: Michael Muller
Phillippe Cousteau: "A great white can bring in about $20,000 for poachers for its fins and jaw -- so they're hunted. The population of sharks in general is plummeting around the world. Sevently million sharks are killed each year, mostly for shark-fin soup." Courtesy: Michael Muller