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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.