Fabien Cousteau Returns to Aquarius to Break Grandfather’s Record

In 1963 in the Red Sea, ocean exploration pioneer Jacques-Yves Cousteau descended to a seafloor lab, and emerged 30 days later with the world record for the longest length of time spent living underwater.

Fifty years later, that record has remained unbroken. But if all goes to plan, that could change this fall when his grandson, Fabien Cousteau, will attempt to break the record.

Fabien Cousteau and his team will descend to the Aquarius Reef Base on September 30, aiming to live and work underwater nonstop for 31 days until they surface on Halloween. During their stay, the aquanauts will undergo physiological tests to study the effects of prolonged saturation diving, as well as conduct various educational outreach efforts, including online discussions and social media activation.

Fabien Cousteau scuba dives around the Aquarius underwater lab's porthole. Photo courtesy of Brian Lam. 

You may remember the Reef Base from One World One Ocean’s 2012 Mission Aquarius Campaign, a real-time media campaign to raise awareness of the lab, which was threatened last year with closure. The Aquarius Reef Base is a one-of-a-kind underwater residence and lab – the last of its kind.

By saturating, aquanauts can safely spend weeks at a time living and working on the seafloor.  Why is this important? The lab allows scientists to accomplish groundbreaking research much more efficiently than they would from the surface. It also serves as a training ground for NASA astronauts, by simulating the isolation and low-gravity of outer space environments.

Mission Aquarius, which generated more than 500 million impressions in two weeks, helped galvanize support for the lab, ultimately preventing its closure. The lab is owned by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and is now operated by Florida International University.

We had the opportunity to work with Fabien Cousteau as part of Mission Aquarius (check out the video below) and will be following his journey over the course of the next few months. Stay tuned for updates!

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