Fabien Cousteau intent on breaking grandfather Jacques Cousteau's underwater record

"It's strange, but I don't really miss much up there," said Fabien Cousteau.
By Brooks Hays  |  June 23, 2014 at 12:12 PM
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KEY LARGO, Fla., June 23 (UPI) -- Fabien Cousteau has a different interpretation of the phrase "respect your elders." Breaking the record of one's grandfather -- in this case history's most famous oceanographer, Jacques Cousteau -- might seem like an affront.

But Fabien Cousteau's attempt to live underwater for 31 days, one day longer than his grandfather, is apparently more of an homage than a slight -- and a way to raise awareness about global warming and the plight of polluted oceans.

"It was never impressed on us to follow in the family tradition," the younger Cousteau explained. "But once you get immersed in the ocean world it's impossible to turn your back on its beauty and its majesty."

Cousteau, who slipped beneath the waves on June 1, has now been living in the underwater lab Aquarius for more than three weeks. The school-bus-sized lab sits 50 feet below the ocean's surface some 3 miles off the coast of Key Largo, Florida. It includes a kitchen, air-conditioning, six bunks for sleeping and -- perhaps, most importantly -- WiFi. Cousteau is been logging on regularly to chat with students around the world. Food is delivered daily by a team of scuba divers.

The six bunks are for other divers who've come to live and study with Cousteau for several days at a time. He's also been visited by his parents, the marine life painter known as Wyland, as well as actors Adrian Grenier and Ian Somerhalder

"It's strange, but I don't really miss much up there," Cousteau said of his time in Aquarius so far. "I actually am very comfortable down here."

When Mission 31 is complete, Cousteau will have to take some 18 hours to slowly rise to the surface, allowing his body to acclimate and avoid embolisms, paralysis or even death.

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