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Another Cousteau heads under water

Like grandfather, like grandson… Fabien Cousteau launches a 31-day undersea expedition off Florida Keys

JACQUES COUSTEAU’S grandson has started his bid to break his grandfather’s 50-year-old record by spending 31 days under water.

Fabien Cousteau and two more so-called "aquanauts" plan to spend 31 days in a 43ftx10ft laboratory named Aquarius, which is 18 metres below the surface of the sea off the Florida Keys, monitoring marine life and filming the environment.

In 1963, his French oceanographer grandfather spent 30 days living nine metres below the surface of the Red Sea. He filmed his experience for the Oscar-winning documentary World Without Sun.

Mission 31 is intended to build on that legacy.

Unlike his grandfather, Fabien will be able to broadcast his entire adventure live online and communicate with the public through social media and video chats with classrooms.

"This is the first time the public will be able to take part in a Cousteau expedition live," Mr Cousteau said.

"My grandfather would’ve loved it."

Aquarius is air conditioned, has wireless Internet access, a shower, a bathroom, six bunks and portholes that give the occupants a 24-hour view of the surrounding marine life.

Astronauts train at Aquarius to simulate living and working in outer space.

Throughout the expedition, researchers from Florida International University and Northeastern University will study the effects of climate change and pollution on the coral reef.

The crew will experiment with new technology that uses sonar to create three-dimensional video images, allowing them to gather data and footage without lights that would disrupt the fish.

Mr Cousteau plans to resurface on July 2. Until then, you can see his team as they live and work under the sea by logging onto the Mission 31 website here.

Photo: Greg Grimes

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