THE FUTURE OF OUR OCEAN
A State-of-the-Art Marine Research Project
An International Space Station, Underwater
Fabien lives by the principle that “there is no such thing as the impossible!” For years, Fabien has dreamed of building a modern underwater habitat; an ‘international space station’ under water. His dream and determination to turn this into a reality was reinforced after Fabien and his crew spent 31 days living and working at the last habitable underwater facility, Aquarius, now over 30 years old.
PROOF OF CONCEPT
One of the most valuable lessons to come from Mission 31 was understanding firsthand what ‘the luxury of time’ can afford. With days rather than hours to explore, study, watch, listen and learn from the surrounding ocean environment Fabien and his team gathered over three years worth of scientific data. It was the time spent at saturation exploring the ocean world around them that opened the door to new and greater understandings.
The success and global reach of Mission 31 set the stage for and became the proof of concept to support the development of the next generation, deep-sea research facility.
The FCOLC seeks to continue the work advanced by Fabien and the team on Mission 31 by redefining the frontiers of marine research and establishing a technologically advanced underwater research facility aimed at advancing the way we go about saturation diving, while expanding our understanding of ocean processes and how they impact our lives and our climate.
EXPLORE MISSION 31
To offer scientists and academics an essential state-of-the-art research lab and a platform to give rise to disruptive scientific breakthroughs in areas such as medicine, genetics, sustainable energy and food cultivation. The FCOLC’s vision is that Proteus™ will be a catalyst to improve the health of humanity and the oceans upon which all life relies.
Core to FCOLC programming this year is the initial design and development of Proteus™. Proteus™ will redefine the way we go about deep-sea exploration and research. Scientists tell us that they need advanced tools like a technologically advanced underwater station and habitat if we are to expect breakthroughs, in part because anything that gives them more time at greater depths is a huge benefit to advancing ocean-based research, given the challenges and difficulty of time in deeper waters.
The overall effect of…underwater habitat programs… on our understanding of coral reefs and other subtidal habitats has been enormous.
Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, College of Science, Professor of Marine & Environmental Sciences, Northeastern University
FACTORS SUPPORTING THE PROGRAM
Scientific Need: Time to Listen to Nature
As the ocean warms, marine bacteria, viruses, and fungi thrive, which increases the likelihood that marine life and humans will be exposed to novel diseases. The ability to sample and access more and varied types of marine life is critical to identifying new potential compounds that will address health threats in the future. Biologists and chemists need access to tools and facilities for indispensable research necessary to unlock new discoveries and hasten solutions.
Co-efficiency of Time: Accelerating the Timeline
Scuba diving has serious limitations as a research tool for ocean scientists primarily because the amount of time safely spent in deeper waters is limited to less than 2-3 hours per day. However, saturation diving (diving at great depths for long periods of time) offers ocean scientists unlimited access to greater depths and can sustain continuous day and night research when supported by an underwater station. Anything that gives a researcher more time at greater depths is a huge benefit to their research because everything is both more difficult to execute in deep water and typically takes more time to accomplish vs. on land or in shallow waters.
Discovery: Unlocking Solutions
Natural marine compounds have been shown to be extremely potent and critical to new drug development, and yet we’ve only explored 5% of our ocean and less than 1% of the deep ocean. Our rapidly changing climate is making it ever more difficult to address the challenges of feeding an ever-growing population. Scientists require time and in situ observation platforms to conduct the research necessary to address critical issues facing humanity and our planet.