Fabien Cousteau's PROTEUS™. Concept designs by Yves Béhar and fuseproject.

Fabien Cousteau reveals underwater ISS plans

The aquanaut, ocean explorer and environmentalist Fabien Cousteau – grandson of Jacques-Yves Cousteau – is planning to build the world’s most advanced underwater scientific research station, sixty feet below the surface of the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Curaçao, near Venezuela.

The underwater habitat – conceived as the underwater version of the International Space Station – will be built for the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center (FCOLC) and will be engaged in the scientific research of climate change, food sustainability and medicinal discoveries.

Designed by renowned industrial designer Yves Béhar and his firm fuseproject, Proteus will be the largest and most technologically advanced underwater station ever built. Attached to the sea floor by stilts, the two-story facility will contain laboratories, medical bays and personal quarters for scientific and aquanaut personnel. Proteus will be powered sustainably by wind, solar and ocean thermal energy and will include the first ever underwater greenhouse for growing food.

As our life support system, the Ocean is indispensable to solving the planet’s biggest problems

– Fabien Cousteau

Scientists and aquanauts will be able to collect data continuously day and night, which should lead to a better understanding of how climate change affects the ocean. Elsewhere, the facility will be engaged in the testing of advanced technologies for green power, aquaculture and robotic exploration, which will enable the discovery of many new species of marine life.

“As our life support system, the Ocean is indispensable to solving the planet’s biggest problems,” said Fabien Cousteau. “Challenges created by climate change, rising sea levels, extreme storms and viruses represent a multi-trillion-dollar risk to the global economy. Proteus [has been conceived] as the first in a network of underwater habitats. [It will be] essential [in] driving meaningful solutions to protect the future of our planet. The knowledge that will be uncovered underwater will forever change the way generations of humans live up above.”

Crucially, the facility’s onsite labs will allow for organic samples to be studied in real time – rather than edure an arduous journey to the surface – when specimens often degrade or die.

According to FCOLC, such on-site experimentation will support research into medicinal development of antibiotics, vaccines and new treatments for cancer.

“Living underwater gives the gift of time and the incredible perspective of being a resident on the reef,” said Sylvia Earle, marine biologist, explorer and Ocean Ambassador of the FCOLC. “You’re not just a visitor anymore.”

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