By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
French explorer and scientist Jacques Cousteau became famous for his underwater research in the 1950s, leading marine conservation efforts and creating award-winning ocean documentary films. Now, his grandson Fabien Cousteau is carrying on the family tradition with the historic Mission 31, where he’ll spend 31 days living underwater with a small research team!
Why will these daredevil aquanauts be cramped inside of Aquarius, the world’s only underwater marine lab? Well, Cousteau and his brave band of ocean experts will be studying climate change, the impact of pollution on ocean animals, and the possibility of humans one day living underwater. Located 63 feet underneath the ocean’s surface by Key Largo, Florida, Cousteau’s crew will be assisted by over 30 support staff.
Filmmakers are on hand to capture incredible footage, and Cousteau compared the mega project to NASA’s space missions. “It takes 24 people topside just to have six people down below for 31 days, just like NASA does for the International Space Station,” he explained. Cousteau expects to succeed, if only because his grandfather pulled off 30 days in an ocean lab 50 years ago! Of course, he wants to beat the record by one day, hence the goal of 31.
The lab itself is 400 square feet, which is the size of a small studio apartment. At 81 tons, the structure is surrounded by barnacles, schools of fish, sharks, and other sea life. Still, Cousteau feels relaxed. “You might find this to be a little weird and trippy, but I actually feel at home down here,” he said.”It is amazing. I couldn’t imagine a better house than one under sea.”
Images courtesy of Fabien Cousteau and Mission 31.