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Fabien Cousteau’s $135mCaribbean Deep-Sea Dream

Posted by Caribbean World Magazine on 5 August 2019 | 0 Comments

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5 August 2019

The grandson of the world’s most famous underwater explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau has chosen the offshore Dutch Antilles as the location for his state-of-the-art International Research Facility, 60ft below the ocean’s surface. 

Fabien Cousteauwas destined to be anaquanaut from birth, accompanying his grandfather on ocean conservation trips and documentary film shoots, where he learned how to scuba dive aged four. A legacy of these early oceanic immersions is Fabien Cousteau’s accomplishments as an explorer sand marine conservationist himself. Now aged 53, he continues to continue the aquatic work his grandfather started almost 100 years go. His latest project, is by far his most ambitious and boasts a blueprint straight out of animated Sci-Fi TV.  With $135-million, Cousteau plans to build the world's largest underwater laboratory in a design that will boast the super-sleek futuristic awe of an International Space Station, but for a challenging aquatic environment. 

Fabien Cousteau, like all scuba fans,is used to exploration underwater being governed by the very real limit of time. To benefit from extended periods in the ocean, Fabian circumvents that time limit by living in an underwater habitat, an innovation that grandfather pioneered in the 1960s. Today, Fabien plans to continue that legacy with the construction of Proteus, an underwater habitat and research station that will be one of the largest ever built. The three-year construction project will take place in a protected marine area, just off the coast of Curaçao, 60 feet below the water surface.

With enough room for up to 12 people to live underwater for weeks - possibly even months - at a time, the facility will be a game-changer in oceanic research and study. Fabien, who founded the New York-based non-profit organisation Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center in 2016, is determined to raise sufficient funds for the facility to ensure scientists and conservationists can be deployed for a longer period of time. 

To build the habitat and operate it for its first three years, Fabian has joined forces with strategic partners that include Northeastern University, Rutgers University and the Caribbean Research and Management of Biodiversity, a Curaçao-based non-profit. The project is named for Proteus, after the Greek primordial sea god who was known to be a keeper of knowledge and shape- changing. With the vast majority of the oceans still largely unexplored, the habitat is designed to be modular, so it can be upgraded and expanded in a multitude of ways. At a depth of 60ft, the project’s engineers hope to decrease the amount of diver topside time and diminish the degree of health hazards due to the lethal effects of nitrogen narcosis and the bends. Much like his famous grandfather, Fabian is passionate about the Ocean,and all that live within it, and the indispensable role itplays in solving the planet's biggest problems. It is hoped that research areas will include those created by climate change, such as rising sea levels, extreme storms and viruses that represent a multi-trillion-dollar risk to the global economy. 

Designs for Proteus and the visionary styling of the underwater research station and habitat were revealed by Cousteau and Swiss industrial designer Yves Béhar. Concept art depicts a 4,000-square-foot modular lab for medical research in a two-story circular building with multiple bubble-like modular pods that can function as labs, medical bays, dormitories, video production facilities, bathrooms, leisure areas, life support systems, and storage units. A separate pod acts as a moon pool for a range of submersibles to conveniently dock at.