Dates have been released for filmmaker Fabien Cousteau’s Mission 31, a historic saturation mission at the FIU Aquarius Reef Base.
Cousteau, along with a team including FIU students, will embark on the 31-day mission June 1. Cousteau and the team are expected to emerge from Aquarius July 2, which would make it the longest saturation mission in the history of Aquarius.
The world’s only underwater research lab, Aquarius is deployed 63 feet beneath the sea off the coast of Key Largo, Fla. Since 2013, it has been operated by FIU. Mission 31 will be the third saturation mission for FIU’s Medina Aquarius Program.
“The overarching theme for Mission 31 is the human-ocean connection within the lens of exploration and discovery,” said Cousteau, the grandson of famed ocean explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
The elder Cousteau is credited with creating the first ocean floor habitats for humans and taking a team of ocean explorers on a 30-day mission in 1963.
“Mission 31 pays homage to my grandfather’s work and all aquanauts who have since followed his lead in the name of ocean exploration,” Cousteau said.
Three main topics will be highlighted throughout Cousteau’s Mission 31 — climate change and the related challenges of ocean acidification; ocean pollution with an emphasis on the effects of plastics; and overconsumption of resources with specific focus on the decline of biodiversity.
“We’re very excited about the possibilities that an extended, underwater human presence provides for science teams conducting manipulative experiments,” said Tom Potts, director of Aquarius. “We’re also looking forward to the numerous education and outreach opportunities that will engage students and the general public worldwide.”