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A big change has occurred with the Jacques Cousteau Monument and plaque in the Avalon Underwater Park (aka Casino Point State Marine Conservation Area).

The Cousteau Monument was originally created and installed in the Park in 1997, shortly after Cousteau died. As many of you have seen when you've been diving the Park, the monument consists of a commemorative aluminum plaque attached to a large rock at a depth of roughly 40 feet. (The rock was originally upright but eventually tipped over.) Sadly, twenty-three years underwater has taken its toll, as you can see from the pictures below. On the left is what the plaque looked like when new in 1997 and on the right, what it looks like today.

Time for a change was long overdue. Ken Kurtis of Reef Seekers contacted CA DF&W - since the Park is an Marine Protected Area, it's under their jurisdiction - and got permission to proceed. As fate would have it, there was another group thinking about this too. When Ken mentioned what he wanted to do to Dr. Bill Bushing one day, Bill mentioned the other group and put Ken in touch with them: Signature Underwater Divers (affiliated with Signature Scuba in Rancho Cucamonga). Ken had permission but no know-how. Signature had the know-how - a bunch of them are underwater mechanics - but they didn't know how to get permission. Once efforts were merged, things proceeded in relatively short order. In fact, it was only two months from first discussion to installing the new bronze plaque on November 4.

Here's what it looks like. We hope you'll agree it's a nice improvement. The wording of the original plaque was kept intact (although two grammatical errors were corrected) and a picture of Cousteau was added, which hopefully personalizes it a bit more:

While the work was spearheaded (and paid for) by Reef Seekers and Signature, it's a joint effort, collaboration, and donation to benefit the entire SoCal diving community.

This YouTube video showcases the effort to replace the plaque.

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