In 1980, Cousteau traveled to Canada to make two films on the Saint Lawrence River and the Great Lakes, Cries from the Deep and St. Lawrence: Stairway to the Sea.
In 1985, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Ronald Reagan.
On 24 November 1988, he was elected to the French Academy, chair 17, succeeding Jean Delay. His official reception under the Cupola took place on 22 June 1989, the response to his speech of reception being given by Bertrand Poirot-Delpech. After his death, he was replaced under the Cupola by Érik Orsenna on 28 May 1998.
In June 1990, the composer Jean Michel Jarre paid homage to the commander by entitling his new album Waiting for Cousteau. He also composed the music for Cousteau's documentary "Palawan, the last refuge".
On 2 December 1990, his wife Simone Cousteau died of cancer.
In June 1991, in Paris, Jacques-Yves Cousteau remarried, to Francine Triplet, with whom he had (before this marriage) two children, Diane and Pierre-Yves. Francine Cousteau currently continues her husband's work as the head of the Cousteau Foundation and Cousteau Society.
From that point, the relations between Jacques-Yves and his elder son worsened.
In November 1991, Cousteau gave an interview to the UNESCO courier, in which he stated that he was in favour of human population control and population decrease. The full article text can be found online.
In 1992, he was invited to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the United Nations' International Conference on Environment and Development, and then he became a regular consultant for the UN and the World Bank.
In 1996, he sued his son who wished to open a holiday center named "Cousteau" in the Fiji Islands.
On 11 January 1996, Calypso was rammed and sunk in Singapore harbor by a barge. The Calypso was refloated and towed home to France.
Jacques-Yves Cousteau died on 25 June 1997 in Paris, aged 87. Despite persistent rumors, encouraged by some Islamic publications and websites, Cousteau did not convert to Islam, and when he died he was buried in a Roman Catholic Christian funeral. He was buried in the family vault at Saint-André-de-Cubzac in France. An homage was paid to him by the city by the inauguration of a "rue du Commandant Cousteau", a street which runs out to his native house, where a commemorative plaque was affixed.
During his lifetime, Jacques-Yves Cousteau received these distinctions:
* Commandeur de la Légion d'Honneur
* Grand-Croix de l'Ordre national du Mérite
* Croix de guerre 1939–1945
* Officier de l'Ordre du Mérite Maritime
* Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
* Honorary Companion of the Order of Australia (26 January 1990)
* National Geographic Society's Special Gold Medal in 1961
Cousteau's legacy includes more than 120 television documentaries, more than 50 books, and an environmental protection foundation with 300,000 members.
Cousteau liked to call himself an "oceanographic technician." He was, in reality, a sophisticated showman, teacher, and lover of nature. His work permitted many people to explore the resources of the oceans.
His work also created a new kind of scientific communication, criticised at the time by some academics. The so-called "divulgationism", a simple way of sharing scientific concepts, was soon employed in other disciplines and became one of the most important characteristics of modern television broadcasting.
Cousteau died on 25 June 1997. The Cousteau Society and its French counterpart, l'Équipe Cousteau, both of which Jacques-Yves Cousteau founded, are still active today. The Society is currently attempting to turn the original Calypso into a museum and it is raising funds to build a successor vessel, the Calypso II.
In his last years, after marrying again, Cousteau became involved in a legal battle with his son Jean-Michel over Jean-Michel licensing the Cousteau name for a South Pacific resort, resulting in Jean-Michel Cousteau being ordered by the court not to encourage confusion between his for-profit business and his father's non-profit endeavours.
In 2007, the International Watch Company introduced the IWC Aquatimer Chronograph "Cousteau Divers" Special Edition. The timepiece incorporated a sliver of wood from the interior of Cousteau's Calypso research vessel. Having developed the diver's watch, IWC offered support to The Cousteau Society. The proceeds from the timepieces' sales were partially donated to the non-profit organization involved into conservation of marine life and preservation of tropical coral reefs.
* The Silent World (1956)
* World Without Sun (1964)
* Journey to the End of the World (1976)
* Cries from the Deep (1981) (Jacques Gagné, director)
* St. Lawrence: Stairway to the Sea (1982) (co-director)
* 1966–68 The World of Jacques-Yves Cousteau
* 1968–76 The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau
* 1977–77 Oasis in Space
* 1977–81 Cousteau's Odyssey Series
* 1982–84 Cousteau's Amazon Series
* 1985–91 Cousteau's Rediscovery of the World I
* 1992–94 Cousteau's Rediscovery of the World II