World-renowned aquanaut, ocean explorer, and environmentalist Fabien Cousteau is currently in Curaçao to complete a site mapping for the construction of the underwater station PROTEUS™. He will be conducting the mapping activities alongside a team of 4 experts from the non-profit marine mapping organization Map the Gaps and the multibeam echosounder manufacturer R2Sonic. He has also met with members of the Curaçaoan government and several residents of the island.
PROTEUS™ will become the world’s most advanced underwater scientific research station and habitat and it is poised to deliver breakthroughs in the fields of medicinal discoveries, food sustainability, and the impacts of climate change. And its first habitat will be located in Curaçao waters. It was conceived as the underwater version of the International Space Station and it will be a platform for global collaboration amongst the world’s leading researchers, academics, government agencies, and corporations to advance science to benefit the future of the planet.
“As our life support system, the ocean is indispensable to solving the planet’s biggest problems. Challenges created by climate change, rising sea levels, extreme storms, and viruses represent a multi-trillion-dollar risk to the global economy,” stated Fabien Cousteau. “PROTEUS™ will be essential to driving meaningful solutions that protect the future of our planet. The knowledge that will be uncovered underwater will forever change the way generations of humans live up above.”
Cousteau and Proteus Ocean Group, of which he is a large shareholder, will be working with the Map the Gaps and R2Sonic team to map the entire marine-protected area in Curaçao over the course of a week. This covers a total surface area of 1,482 acres of reef and 1,077 acres of inner bays. Together, these organizations will provide vital data and a deeper knowledge base to benefit Curaçao, by enabling sustainable conservation measures.
“Map the Gaps is delighted to have the opportunity to assemble a team consisting of mapping specialists from the region to map the marine protected area in Curaçao. Knowing that our work contributes to the site reconnaissance exploration for a human underwater habitat and that this important initiative will have a lasting impact on our ocean is immensely exciting,” commented Tim Kearns, the founder of Map the Gaps.
R2Sonic commented “We are excited to participate in mapping the underwater area off of the Curaçao coast where PROTEUS™ will build its underwater habitat. Hydrographic Survey is at the origin of so many activities that drive economic prosperity and help us understand our ecosystem. Assisting with our top-of-the-line multibeam echosounder, the Sonic 2026, and helping conduct the hydrographic survey is our way to contribute to the development of this project which can be groundbreaking in our understanding of the underwater habitat.”
Hugo Clarinda, Deputy Director of the Curaçao Tourist Board, stated the following: “As an island recognized worldwide for its pristine oceans and diverse marine life, we are honored to have Curaçao as home to PROTEUS™. We fully support the team involved in this project and are committed to the vision and partnership, serving as stewards for the environment. This is an impressive and important project for science, the world, and the future of our fragile ecosystem, full of immense riches yet to be discovered. Curaçao is passionate about the health of our oceans and will continue to be advocates of this type of research and projects of this magnitude.”
PROTEUS™ is envisioned to be more than four times the size of any previously known underwater habitat, and will feature state-of-the-art labs, sleeping quarters, and a moon pool. It will also include a full-scale video production facility to provide continuous live streaming for educational programming, and delivery of augmented and virtual reality to collaborators worldwide. This will allow its inhabitants to tell the story of PROTEUS™ and engage communities around the world with our ocean. This will also serve as extra promotion for Curaçao to a global audience.
Cousteau has also met with members of the Office of the Ministry of Education for initial conversations to explore opportunities for ocean awareness and educational programming and outreach. Mr. Sithree van Heydoorn, the Minister of Education commented: “The site mapping is an exciting next step in the building of PROTEUS™, which will allow for unprecedented access to a deeper understanding of the ocean. Through its development, we’ll be able to learn more about the marine biodiversity of Curaçao on a local level and further educate the community on the human-ocean connection.”