Jacques Cousteau's Ocean Tales

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Jacques Cousteau's Ocean Tales TV Poster Image
Sea explorations promote conservation but can be tense.

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Educational Value

The show introduces kids to the concept of ocean exploration and promotes the importance of conservation. New vocabulary is incorporated into the dialogue in a very natural way, teaching kids about everything from cenotes to incubators in a subtle way. Because the characters visit many locations, kids also get a sense of the cultures of various indigenous populations. 

Positive Messages

In its presentation of various animal species, the show instills respect for the environment, a need for conservation, and awe for nature's diversity. Additionally, the characters' expeditions require plenty of teamwork and communication to keep everyone involved safe. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

All the characters -- both adults and kids -- are dedicated to studying and conserving the environment, and they show great respect for the diverse cultures and traditions they experience in their travels. Even when the native people's customs seem foreign to them, they try hard to bridge the gap of understanding and defer to their traditions. 

Violence & Scariness

The characters' expeditions often bring them close to danger from the elements or the creatures they encounter, facing off with predators such as crocodiles and sharks in their underwater explorations. Diving also brings its own moments of peril, though the ending is always happy all around. There's also a supernatural aspect to some of the stories, which incorporate spiritual forces that sometimes threaten the characters. The show doesn’t shy away from the harsh reality of nature, so some animals are shown being killed and eaten by predators.

Sexy Stuff

In stories that incorporate new cultures, indigenous people are shown in customary dress, which sometimes reveal more than Western customs typically do. In one, for instance, women wear shirts that cover only their breasts and some of their backs, and everyone dons a tunic that's slit up each side to the waist, showing the sides of their buttocks. There's nothing sexual or graphic about it, though. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jacques Cousteau's Ocean Tales introduces kids to the concept of sea exploration and a vast array of ocean creatures and their habits. An animated Cousteau is the senior member of the expedition team, but the stories evolve more through the eyes of the younger characters on-board the ship, which makes it more relatable for kids. The show makes a laudable attempt to be realistic in how it presents the animals, their habits, and the crew's exploration process, so even in its cartoon format, perilous situations (diving emergencies, encounters with predators) can be worrisome for youngsters. The characters' travels also introduce kids to different places and the cultures of the people who live there, numerous scientific terms, and the occasional seafaring legend or two.

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What's the story?

Famed sea explorer Jacques Cousteau's animated alter ego (voiced by Christophe Malavoy) leads a crew on globetrotting expeditions in JACQUES COUSTEAU'S OCEAN TALES. Aboard the Calypso with a crew of adults and kids, Cousteau sets out for exotic locales such as the Galapagos Islands, the Strait of Gibraltar, and the site of the lost city of Atlantis, where they explore and look for clues to long-held mysteries of the wild. With the world as their classroom and a legendary explorer as their teacher, these kids get to experience nature and ocean life like no one else.

Is it any good?

Jacques Cousteau's Ocean Tales uses a widely recognized name to reel in viewers and treat them to a fascinating tour of the sea and its inhabitants. From researching narwhals' chants to tracking dolphins, these adventures introduce kids to the fascinating diversity that exists under the sea. For those a bit more adventurous at heart, many of the stories also incorporate mysteries of some kind, such as lost cities and buried treasure. Either way, the show does an excellent job of blending learning with entertainment, teaching viewers about the habits of different species and the practices of diving and ocean exploration.

But what's most likable from a parent's standpoint are the many positive messages yielded by the show's thoughtful content. Most obvious are the reminders about conservation and being caretakers for the environment, but you'll also notice themes of teamwork, creative problem-solving, and effective communication in the characters' adventures. And, when their travels bring them face-to-face with indigenous people and unfamiliar customs, the characters show great respect in their words and actions. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about ocean exploration. Kids: Why do you think people are fascinated with life under the sea? What mysteries still exist there? 

  • How has technology allowed us to learn about the sea in new ways? How does it improve our lives? Are there any drawbacks to our reliance on gadgets? 

  • This series is a great introduction to further studies about world geography and biodiversity. Work with your kids to learn more about where the story was set and how the resident people and creatures are uniquely adapted to their environment. If someone was to visit your home, what might they say sets it apart? 

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