ISLAMORADA — Fabien Cousteau says his 31-day experiment living underwater off 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 dived June 1 to Aquarius Reef Base to study the effects of climate change and pollution on a coral reef. The expedition was broadcast in real time online, and Cousteau held video chats with classrooms worldwide.
The crew started decompression Tuesday inside the 460-square-foot pressurized lab, 63 feet below the ocean surface off Key Largo. They resurfaced about 16 hours later Wednesday and returned to the Aquarius command center in Islamorada.
Cousteau said he was struck by the sunlight and fresh air when he emerged.
His grandfather, ocean exploration pioneer Jacques Cousteau, helped develop the advanced diving techniques used at Aquarius. "Mission 31" was conceived as a nod to Conshelf II, a 30-day underwater living experiment in the Red Sea that the elder Cousteau filmed for his Oscar-winning documentary World Without Sun.