The legendary Jacques Cousteau loved working underwater amid incredible sea life. Now his grandson Fabien—himself an accomplished aquanaut and ocean conservationist—is revisiting that passion by trying to fund an aquatic habitat the Smithsonian calls an "international space station of the sea." The Proteus station would include a laboratory, video studio, and living and sleeping quarters across 4,000 comfortable square feet, if Fabien can drum up $135 million to build and run it for the first three years. He wants to place it 60 feet underwater in a biodiverse, protected area near the island nation of Curaçao. "Now, all of a sudden, we have a house at the bottom of the sea, and we're able to go into the water, and dive 10 to 12 hours a day to do research, science and filming," he says.
Such dreams go back decades. Jacques' three "Conshelf" undersea stations in the 1960s made headlines and sparked public interest in ocean exploration, but were comparatively cramped. A slew of similar missions followed, but only one research station remains today—the Aquarius Reef Base off Key Largo—in part because space exploration took over the public imagination. Yet the National Ocean Service says over 80% of oceans remain "unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored," and conservationists like Fabien are deeply concerned about protecting marine habitats and coastal areas amid climate change. "We're now in a new evolution of consciousness of ocean exploration," he says. "Thanks to modern technology, we're able to communicate the importance of ocean exploration." Click for the full article. (Or read about a "chilling discovery" Fabien made off the coast of Belize.)