Fabien Cousteau, ocean explorer and grandson of famed Jacques-Yves Cousteau, began a historic subsea mission on Sunday. He’s studying ocean impacts of climate change (especially acidification, which occurs as the sea absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide), effects of plastic and other pollution on marine life, and overfishing of marine resources, which diminishes the ocean’s biodiversity.
You can watch video of the 31-day Cousteau ocean climate study, both inside and outside the habitat, stream 24/7 live at Mission-31.com. You’ll also find video chat and social media communications from the team on the internet, as well as the dive log from the exploration.
The Cousteau ocean climate team is now living in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary aboard Aquarius, an 81-ton underwater laboratory. The federal government built it 25 years ago for diverse purposes: for example, to understand the disappearance of coral reefs, train NASA astronauts for space, and research sea sponges, the source of two cancer drugs. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration now owns the lab. Florida International University operates it.
Introductory video from the July 2012 One World One Ocean Aquarius mission: WATCH HERE!
Fabien Cousteau tells Atlantic reporter Svati Kirsten Narula:
“It is thanks to the health of our oceans in general that we exist. Whatever we do to the oceans we do to ourselves.”
If the study goes as planned, Fabien Cousteau will achieve his goals and also beat his grandfather’s 1963 record of 30 days living undersea in “Conshelf Two,” a laboratory below the Red Sea. However, this month’s Cousteau ocean climate mission isn’t a Guinness gimmick. Says representative Amy Summers, it’s taking place now “to honor the work that was done by Jacques Cousteau 50 years ago.”
Terrell Johnson of Weather Underground reports on study methods:
“The team plans to spend its month below the surface both diving for 6 to 9 hours each day around Aquarius along Florida’s Conch Reef, and using 3-D imagery to capture never-before-seen predator-prey behavior for both short- and long-form documentaries.”
Nutrient enrichment observations on a coral reef: WATCH HERE!
Two technicians are assisting Fabien Cousteau for the duration of the project. Two teams of a camera operator and two scientists also plan to stay there. They’ll swap out halfway through because the lab only has room for three of them at a time.
In a space about the size of a school bus (only 43x20x16-1/2 feet), Aquarius packs air-conditioned work space, six bunk beds, and a galley kitchen with microwave, refrigerator, hot water—and oh! even WiFi. Decompression from Aquarius life back to sea level next month will take about 18 hours.