ISLAMORADA (CBSMiami/AP) — The grandson of famed underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau is entering the second half of his 31-day underwater living experiment in the Florida Keys.
Fabian Cousteau and a team of researchers dove June 1st to Aquarius Reef Base to study the coral reef. Aquarius Reef Base is a school bus-sized laboratory 60 feet below the ocean’s surface, a few miles off Key Largo.
Florida International University officials say the data collected by the “Mission 31” team so far shows how significantly the activity of small fish on the reef is affected by large predators, which could change how those species are managed. The team also is measuring ocean acidification.
Cousteau also has been holding online chats with classrooms worldwide. He was visited last week by actor Ian Somerhalder, marine biologist Sylvia Earle and his father, Jean-Michel Cousteau.
The 400-square-foot pressurized Aquarius lab has six bunk beds and allows scientists to live and work underwater and scuba dive for extended periods of time, without needing to return to the surface or decompress. It’s owned by the U.S. government and operated by FIU.
The idea for “Mission 31” came to Cousteau two years ago when he visited Aquarius during a fundraising push to save the lab, which federal budget cuts had threatened to permanently close.
“Mission 31” builds on the legacy of Conshelf II, the 30-day underwater living experiment in the Red Sea that Jacques Cousteau filmed in 1963 for his Oscar-winning documentary “World Without Sun.”
Cousteau plans to resurface July 2.
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