NOAA and Proteus Ocean Group to Explore the Uses of Underwater Space Station

NOAA and Proteus Ocean Group to Explore the Uses of Underwater Space Station
Proteus Ocean Group is building and will operate PROTEUS™, the state-of-the-art, modular, sustainable underwater habitat, observatory and research platform for scientists, innovators, and global customers. Credit: Proteus Ocean Group

Under the new cooperative research and development agreement, NOAA and Proteus Ocean NOAA and Proteus Ocean Group have signed a formal agreement to use the “underwater space station of the ocean,” PROTEUS™, to advance marine science, research and education.

Together, NOAA and Proteus Ocean Group seek to develop a deeper understanding of the ocean environment and reveal solutions to some of the planet’s most pressing concerns, including those related to climate change. 

PROTEUS™, the first underwater site of this stature, is set to be built and will be located off the Caribbean Island of Curacao. It will serve as an underwater habitat where scientists, innovators, private citizens, the public sector and global customers can live underwater to study the ocean environment for extended periods of time. In addition to state-of-the-art scientific laboratories, living quarters, and an underwater garden for food production, PROTEUS™ will include a full-scale video production facility to provide live streaming for research and educational programming. 

“This partnership has the potential to greatly expand our capabilities in studying the ocean,” said Jeremy Weirich, the director of NOAA Ocean Exploration. “By living underwater for extended periods in this new ocean laboratory, we’ll be able to unlock the ocean’s mysteries so that we can better manage, sustainably use, protect and appreciate its resources.”

2 Fabien Cousteau leads Mission 31 team Ocean explorer Fabien Cousteau leads Mission 31 team on a night exploration dive out of the Aquarius underwater lab off the Florida Keys, as photographed from outside of Aquarius, which was operated until 2013 by NOAA and partners and is now run by Florida International University. The Aquarius lab inspired Fabien Cousteau to plan and develop the new PROTEUS™ underwater habitat. Photo courtesy of Fabien Cousteau

Group will work together to identify opportunities for research using the unique capabilities of PROTEUS™. NOAA will provide access to scientific experts, vessels and other technology, expedition plans and mission results relevant to PROTEUS™ activities, as well as access to shoreside facilities and programs throughout the agency’s mission portfolios of the ocean, weather, climate and coastal science. Proteus Ocean Group will share data and insights related to the development phase of the underwater habitat.

3 Fabine Cousteau 1Fabien Cousteau, Founder and Chief Oceanic Explorer of Proteus Ocean Group

Fabien Cousteau, Founder and Chief Oceanic Explorer of Proteus Ocean Group said, “On PROTEUS™ we will have unbridled access to the ocean 24/7, making possible long-term studies with continuous human observation and experimentation. With NOAA’s collaboration, the discoveries we can make — in relation to climate refugia, super corals, life-saving drugs, micro environmental data tied to climate events and many others — will be truly groundbreaking. We look forward to sharing those stories with the world.”

The partners may undertake joint expeditions, exchange personnel and share methods of operation related to missions to study the ocean environment. They will also work together to communicate their activities to increase public engagement in marine science.

The agreement supports the goals of both partners to better understand the impacts of climate change on the ocean, increase public engagement in ocean exploration and improve decisions related to ecosystem health and resilience.


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