Fabien Cousteau’s Mission 31 broke new ground in ocean exploration and also coincided with the 50th anniversary of a monumental legacy left by his grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who is credited with creating the first ocean floor habitats for humans and leading a team of ocean explorers on the first attempt to live and work underwater aboard Conshelf Two. The ambitious 30-day living experiment in the Red Sea succeeded as the first effort in saturation diving, proving that it could be done without suffering any ill effects. Mission 31 broadened the original Cousteau experiment by one full day, 30 more feet of saturation and broadcasted each moment on multiple channels exposing the world to the adventure, risk and mystique of what lies beneath. This was the first time a mission of this length took place in the Aquarius lab, the only underwater marine habitat and lab in the world, located 9 miles off the coast of Key Largo, Fla., and operated by Florida International University.
The overarching theme for Mission 31 is the human-ocean connection within the lens of exploration and discovery. Three main topics will be highlighted throughout 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.
“Mission 31 pays homage to my grandfather’s work and all aquanauts who have since followed his lead in the name of ocean exploration.” ~ Fabien Cousteau