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Why I'm Going 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to Save Our Oceans Why I'm Going 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to Save Our Oceans

Why I'm Going 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to Save Our Oceans

by Fabien Cousteau
October 3, 2013

Have you ever thought about living under the sea? I mean, not just traveling in a submarine (although, that is extremely exciting), but rather living and working under the ocean—where you could dive and explore for up to nine hours per day. Well, that is what my team and I will be doing in November and sharing it with the world. One key goal will be to help people better understand what is taking place "20,000 leagues under the sea."

Not only will our endeavor break new ground in ocean exploration, but it also coincides with the 50th anniversary of a monumental legacy left by my grandfather. Credited with creating the first underwater habitats for humans, he led a team of ocean explorers aboard Conshelf II on the first attempt to live and work underwater for a month. The ambitious 30-day living experiment in the Red Sea succeeded as the first effort in long-term saturation diving, proving it could be done without suffering any ill effects. Mission 31 will expand his efforts by one full day and by going 30 feet deeper. We will also be sharing every second on multiple channels, exposing the world to the adventure, risk, and mystique of what lies beneath.

Mission 31 is my upcoming ocean endeavor to live for 31 days at Aquarius (the only undersea habitat in the world). Owned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and managed by Florida International University, Aquarius is located 63 feet under the sea in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (approximately nine miles east of Key Largo). As previous missions have lasted a maximum of 18 days, this will be the first time Aquarius has hosted a mission of this length.

During Mission 31, our research will focus on the effects of weather underwater and climate change as well as pollution on corals and its biodiversity. Sponges will also be examined with scientific advice and mission support from Northeastern University's Initiative in Urban Coastal Sustainability. During the expedition, we will work on our own human physiological and psychological experiments to determine how long humans can live without the sun, the effects of long-term high pressure, and the mental impact of close-quarter living.

Why are we doing this? And why do we need your help?

  • To conduct meaningful and important scientific experiments that can be run most effectively when truly saturated under the sea (i.e. we can conduct underwater experiments without having to surface after an hour).
  • To push the limits of human potential when living in inhospitable conditions (to give us more insight on such future projects as people living on Mars).
  • To reach the world live, in "real time" and to provide children and young adults with both a chance to dream and to experience the excitement of discovery, exploration and scientific endeavors again. (Remember Apollo?)

The fun and hard work begins on November 1 when my team and I begin saturation training, and "Splashdown" is scheduled on November 12 making our first full day on Aquarius November 13. Students around the world will be able to follow and engage with our expedition and see what is happening inside Aquarius each day of the mission via live Skype in the Classroom.



We are thrilled to have a number of supporters, including DOXA, Skype, Ocean Elders (whose organization will assist with VIP visits by Richard Branson, Sylvia Earle, Don Walsh, and more to Aquarius during Mission 31). Recording artist will.i.am’s i.am.angel Foundation will help several underserved children receive scuba training on a visit during the mission. But we would love to engage the public in our endeavor.

If you have interest in supporting Mission 31, please visit our Indiegogo campaign and claim a piece of the action! Who knows, maybe you too can come down as a VIP diver/guest during Mission 31… For more information or to join our mission as a supporting partner, please visit us at www.mission-31.com.

This project is part of GOOD's series Push for Good—our guide to crowdsourcing creative progress.

Illustration via Marc Evan

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