Live from beneath the sea: 15 minutes with Fabien Cousteau (video)

In the middle of his mission, Jacques Cousteau's grandson shares why 31 days underwater isn't enough and which piece of tech sparks childhood memories.

Fabien Cousteau at the Aquarius undersea lab. Kip Evans

Living underwater for 31 days in a school bus-size lab with five other people might strike some as 30 days too many. As it turns out, it's not nearly enough time if you've got a to-do list as deep as the ocean. Just ask Fabien Cousteau.

"I'm just sweating bullets, because all of the sudden I look down at the clock and I'm realizing we're more than halfway done, and we have so much more than half to do," he said Thursday from the Aquarius, the world's only undersea research lab. "Maybe this should be Mission 62, instead of Mission 31."

Mission 31 is Cousteau's undersea-living expedition, similar to one his famous grandfather, Jacques, undertook in 1963, but deeper and one day longer. At 19 days in, it has now become the longest-running mission at the Aquarius habitat, which sits 63 feet below the surface near a coral reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. (The next longest was a NASA mission that ran 18 days.)

Since June 1, Cousteau and his fellow aquanauts have been living mostly on freeze-dried food and conducting scientific research on the marine life and themselves -- all the while broadcasting the mission live online.

CNET checked in with Cousteau on Thursday via Skype to find out how the mission is coming along. Check out the interview below. An added bonus: watch all the fish swimming by just outside the porthole.

In the video, Cousteau shares how the undersea habitat is like the International Space Station (at the 1-minute mark), what scientific data they're collecting on themselves (at the 5:40 mark), how it's been a marathon (7:20), why a tech tool that recently arrived at the Aquarius brings back fond childhood memories (9:35), and why schoolkids ask the best questions (12:15).

About the author

Anne Dujmovic is an associate editor at CNET News. After working more than a dozen years in newspapers, including a seven-year stint at the San Jose Mercury News, Anne migrated north to Portland, Ore. There, she honed her pastry-making skills as an apprentice. Although she's returned to journalism, she still misses the free pastries. E-mail Anne.


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