I Was a Trojan Shark

Tucked inside a robotic great white, filmmaker Fabien Cousteau captures rare footage of the deep-sea world

by Mike Hoover
A diver films Cousteau disguised as a shark.Mike Hoover

At 1,200 pounds and 14 feet long, "Troy" is chunkier than the average great white shark. He might smell kind of funny too. But do the pods of sharp-toothed predators he swam among last winter know that, inside, there's just a man? Or that it was Fabien Cousteau, grandson of pioneering undersea explorer Jacques, surreptitiously recording their every movement?

"My hope," Cousteau quips, "is that they think, 'Hey, that looks strangely like my retarded cousin from Australia!'" Cousteau spent more than 100 hours in the $100,000 submarine, custom-built by engineers at E.P. Industries in El Segundo, California, shooting video footage for a documentary film on shark cognition that´s due out by the end of the summer. Using a camouflage device, he believes, allows scientists to capture animal behavior in a purer way (most great-white footage is shot by divers inside a cage). To wit: Cousteau, posing as Troy, is the only person to ever capture on film a female shark attacking another female.