What You Didn't Know About Jacques Cousteau's Secret Family

Jacques Cousteau was a man obsessed with mystery. To him, the briny deep was a world of endless secrets just waiting to be discovered. According to Britannica, his insatiable curiosity led him to make huge advancements in humanity's ability to explore the ocean. For example, he co-invented the Aqua-Lung, the world's first commercially viable self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, aka scuba equipment, which became the basis for the design of modern scuba equipment used today. He also invented a number of underwater cameras and a small submarine for exploring the ocean floor.

But Cousteau was not only a man obsessed with the mysteries of the natural world, he also had his own personal mysterious side. Toward the end of his life, he revealed that his own past was as riddled with dark secrets as the aquatic world that captivated his imagination. As it turns out, despite being married for decades, he had maintained a mistress and even had a secret family the whole time.

Jacques Cousteau at least waited until his wife died to reveal his secret family

Jacques Cousteau's wife was named Simone Melchior (pictured with Jacques above). According to Mental Floss, the two were married in 1937, and Simone played an integral role in Jacques' mission to survey the depths of the seven seas. She accompanied him and his team on expeditions and even helped him finance them. She once sold jewels passed down through her family so that they could buy fuel for his ship Calypso. Her help in the operation earned her the nickname "The Shepherdess" from the crew.

So at least Jacques had the sense to wait until after Simone died to announce that he'd been raising a whole other family in secret for much of their relationship. Simone died in 1990, and the following year, Jacques went public with his confession, announcing that he had long been carrying on an affair with a woman named Francine Triplet, who was over 30 years younger than he. They even had children. The Washington Post reports that they had a daughter in 1980 and a son two years after that.

"Life goes on, and for me life begins anew," Cousteau said at the time. He and Triplet were married not long after.