Fabien Cousteau says his 31-day underwater living experiment in the Florida Keys was a monumental success that used tools of which his famous ocean explorer grandfather could only dream.
Cousteau and a team of filmmakers and scientists dove June 1 to Aquarius Reef Base to study what effects climate change and pollution are having on a coral reef.
“I wish I could say I was happy to be here,” Cousteau said. “Feeling good physically. Emotionally, it’s kind of cool down there.”
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The crew started decompression Tuesday inside the pressurized lab, 63 feet below the ocean's surface off Key Largo. They resurfaced Wednesday and returned to the Aquarius command center in Islamorada. The entire expedition was broadcast in real time online, and Cousteau held video chats with classrooms worldwide.
While they produced the equivalent of a year’s worth of research, they also had some fun hosting guests like the artist Wyland and even celebrated a birthday. The birthday celebrated would have been the late Jacques Cousteau’s 104th birthday.
Cousteau says he was struck by the sunlight and fresh air when he emerged Wednesday morning, but he already missed his underwater home.
While Cousteau and his team were under water, a large team in Islamorada was monitoring the safety of the “aquanauts” 24/7.
“The red phone really is a direct line with the habitat you don’t have to dial,” said Roger Garcia who headed up the team that monitored the undersea group. “I see them interact with each other. It is like watching a reality show.”
Still, not everything that went on would be revealed, “What happens in Aquarius, stays in Aquarius,” Garcia said.