Fabien Cousteau Continues Family Legacy

Mission 31 Resulting in 10 Published Studies with His Partners at FIU and Northeastern University

In Fabien Cousteau's world, people will live, work and, of course, play under the sea. The grandson of the legendary ocean explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau spent 31 days last summer hanging out in a marine laboratory 63 feet below the water's surface in the Florida Keys.

"It was one of my fantasies," said the 47-year-old aquanaut, a headliner at this week's Blue Ocean Festival in St. Petersburg. "I always want to go deeper, stay longer … that is where our future is, under the sea."

Born in Paris and raised aboard his grandfather's ships, Calypsoand Alcyone, Cousteau learned how to scuba dive on his fourth birthday. His home is "a suitcase,'' he said, but most of the time you can find him in New York City, trying to convince politicians and movie stars to join him in the family business, saving the world's oceans.

"It is time we stopped arguing and start looking ahead," said Cousteau, who holds a degree in environmental economics from Boston University. "We need to adapt, diversify and begin looking at the 95 percent of the oceans that have yet to be explored."

Climate change could trigger changes in sea levels that will force us to look to the sea for food, minerals and energy. "We could build underwater cities that are completely self-sustaining," he said. "We have that technology."

But Cousteau realizes his calls may fall on deaf ears. That is why he hopes to rally the world's youth, drawing them into a world that few ever get to see.

"I really just want to share the thrill of undersea exploration," said Cousteau, who had regular Skype sessions with students while he was living and working aboard the Aquarius on the sea floor off Key Largo. "We need recruits. That is one thing my grandfather did so well — he got people involved."

The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, a TV series that debuted in 1968, helped kick-start the modern marine environmental movement, introducing a generation of Americans to the sport of scuba diving.

Fabien Cousteau is invested in his family's legacy, but he also hopes to apply his business savvy to nonprofits.

"I studied international business and marketing at NYU," he said. "If you want to make it work, you have to be able to show that good business decisions can also be good for the environment."

In June, Cousteau's "Mission 31" became the longest science expedition to take place in the Aquarius, operated by Florida International University. It is expected to lead to at least 10 published studies with his partners at FIU and Northeastern University. Mission 31 also paid homage to the 50th anniversary of his grandfather's participation in Continental Shelf Station Two, or Conshelf Two, one of the first attempts to live and work in an underwater habitat for humans.

Source: Tampbay

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