Conservationist and Designer Announce New Underwater Research Center

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. ambitious / æmˈbɪʃ əs / (adj) – requiring a lot of effort to achieve

    This building is the most ambitious one the architect has designed so far.

  2. deity / ˈdi ɪ ti / (n) – a god or goddess

    The town is named after a deity that has many arms.

  3. famed / feɪmd / (adj) – well-known

    Thousands of fans showed up at the famed writer’s book signing event.

  4. modular / ˈmɒdʒ ə lər / (adj) – having parts that can be easily removed or rearranged

    My modular sofa can be separated into chair-sized pieces.

  5. traverse / trəˈvɜrs / (v) – to travel across an area

    The environmental researchers traversed many forests in Europe.


Read the text below.

Ocean conservationist Fabien Cousteau [koo-STOH] and Swiss industrial designer Yves Béhar unveiled plans for an ambitious underwater research center.

The facility is named after the Greek ocean deity Proteus and will be located 60 feet beneath the surface of the Caribbean Sea. Once completed, the structure will span 4,000 square feet and accommodate up to 12 researchers at a time.

Cousteau, the grandson of a famed ocean explorer, envisions Proteus to be the underwater counterpart of the International Space Station. The aquatic research center will aid scientists in discovering new marine species, better understanding the effects of climate change on oceans, and testing new technology for ocean exploration.

Béhar, who is in charge of Proteus’s architecture, designed the facility to be modular so it can be customized and upgraded as needed. He imagines Proteus as a two-level facility with small pods attached around it. The main spaces will serve as areas where scientists can interact with one another. The small pods, on the other hand, will house laboratories, sleeping quarters, and medical bays.

Proteus will be equipped with a greenhouse where researchers can grow fresh food, and it will be powered by renewable energy.

Cousteau hopes that through Proteus, other researchers will be encouraged to give more attention and funding to ocean exploration. According to him, exploring the ocean is far more important than traversing space because the vast waters serve as the life support system of humans. The Earth’s oceans make up about 71% of the planet’s surface, but less than 20% of them have been mapped, and only 5% have been explored.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• If you had the opportunity, would you visit Proteus? Why or why not?
• Do you agree with Cousteau that exploring the ocean is more important than traversing space? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Do you think there will be more underwater facilities in the future? Why or why not?
• Aside from underwater facilities, what similar establishments do you foresee being invented in the future (e.g. underground restaurants)? Discuss.