Tags: fabien cousteau | jacques yves cousteau | florida keys

Fabien Cousteau Sets Out to Break Grandfather's Undersea Excursion Record

By    |   Monday, 02 Jun 2014 12:42 PM

Fabien Cousteau began a 31-day underwater expedition in the Florida Keys Sunday, following in the footsteps of his famous grandfather, oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who previously held the record on a similar sojourn set nearly a half century earlier.

Cousteau's sojourn, titled "Mission 31," began with a dive to the Aquarius Reef Base, located a few miles off Key Largo, where a 43-foot-long laboratory named Aquarius is situated some 60 feet below sea level. The facility will be Cousteau's home for the next month as he and his five-person crew film a documentary that involves science experiments on the nearby coral reef, The Associated Press reported.

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"We're marking a new era in ocean exploration," the 46-year-old Paris-born Cousteau told reporters before setting out on his journey over the weekend.

"I imagine we'll want to stay down once we get comfy down there," Cousteau added. "We won't want to come back up to the surface because it's such a magical place."

The Aquarius is an air-conditioned facility with wireless Internet access, a shower, a bathroom, six bunks, and portholes that give the occupants a 24-hour view of the surrounding marine life, Reuters reported.

Divers on the expedition will reportedly use a technique called saturation diving where the undersea habitat is pressurized to mimic what is found on earth's surface. The technique prevents decompression sickness, which occurs when human tissue absorbs gases like nitrogen in dangerously high volumes, Reuters noted.

The idea for "Mission 31" came to Cousteau two years ago when he visited Aquarius during a fundraising push to save the lab, which federal budget cuts had threatened to permanently close, the AP noted.

"It reminded me that I've always wanted to live underwater," Cousteau said Saturday at his training base in Islamorada.

"For the first time I'm able to invite the world on a Cousteau expedition in real time," Cousteau added, having in the past filmed documentaries on sharks and other marine life.

Cousteau's grandfather, Jacques-Yves, filmed a similar Oscar-winning documentary titled "World Without Sun" in 1964. The film similarly showcased a half-dozen divers living approximately 30 feet down on Red Sea floor off Sudan for 30 days.

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Fabien Cousteau began a 31-day underwater expedition in the Florida Keys Sunday, following in the footsteps of his famous grandfather, oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who previously held the record on a similar sojourn set nearly a half century earlier.
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Monday, 02 Jun 2014 12:42 PM
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