Cousteau's grandson to surface after record underwater stay

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Cousteau's grandson to surface after record underwater stay
Fabien Cousteau waves from inside Aquarius Reef Base, a laboratory 63 feet below the surface in the waters off Key Largo, in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. A team of filmmakers and researchers dove with Cousteau on June 1 to Aquarius. At the mission’s mid-point, the FIU researchers traded places with researchers from Northeastern, who will return to land July 2 with Cousteau. They’ve been studying the effects of climate change and pollutants such as fertilizers on the reef. Cousteau conceived of “Mission 31” as an homage to the Conshelf underwater living experiments orchestrated in the 1960s by his grandfather, ocean exploration pioneer Jacques Cousteau. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Thomas Potts, director of Florida International University's Aquarius Reef Base, dives down to Aquarius, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. A team of filmmakers and researchers dove with Fabien Cousteau on June 1 to Aquarius, a laboratory 63 feet below the surface in the waters off Key Largo, in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. At the mission’s mid-point, the FIU researchers traded places with researchers from Northeastern, who will return to land July 2 with Cousteau. They’ve been studying the effects of climate change and pollutants such as fertilizers on the reef. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
MUNICH, GERMANY - JANUARY 26: Fabien Cousteau attends the Digital Life Design (DLD) conference on January 26, 2009 in Munich, Germany. DLD brings together global leaders and creators from the digital world. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images for Burda Media)
MUNICH, GERMANY - JANUARY 26: Fabien Cousteau attends the Digital Life Design (DLD) conference on January 26, 2009 in Munich, Germany. DLD brings together global leaders and creators from the digital world. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images for Burda Media)
HOLLYWOOD - APRIL 17: (L-R) Filmmakers Celine Cousteau, Fabien Cousteau and Consul General of Monaco Maguy Maccario-Doyle arrives at the premiere of Walt Disney Pictures' 'Oceans' at the El Capitan Theatre on April 17, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mark Sullivan/Getty Images)
Mission scientists Grace Young, left an MIT graduate in Mechanical & Ocean Engineering, and Liz Bentley Magee, right, Northeastern University diving safety officer and Three Seas Program coordinator, conduct experiments on sponges outside Aquarius Reef Base, a laboratory 63 feet below the surface in the waters off Key Largo, in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. A team of filmmakers and researchers dove with Fabien Cousteau on June 1 to Aquarius. At the mission’s mid-point, the FIU researchers traded places with researchers from Northeastern, who will return to land July 2 with Cousteau. They’ve been studying the effects of climate change and pollutants such as fertilizers on the reef. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Mission scientist Grace Young, left an MIT graduate in Mechanical & Ocean Engineering, Ryan Stancil, center, Mission doctor, and Fabien Cousteau chat inside Aquarius Reef Base, a laboratory 63 feet below the surface in the waters off Key Largo, in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. A team of filmmakers and researchers dove with Cousteau on June 1 to Aquarius. At the mission’s mid-point, the FIU researchers traded places with researchers from Northeastern, who will return to land July 2 with Cousteau. They’ve been studying the effects of climate change and pollutants such as fertilizers on the reef. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
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BY ZACHARY FAGENSON

(Reuters) - Fabien Cousteau, grandson of famed French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, is due to emerge from the turquoise waters off the Florida Keys on Wednesday morning, marking the end of a record-breaking, 31-day stay inside an underwater habitat with a team of scientists and documentary filmmakers.

The younger Cousteau, 46, along with two "aquanauts," took the 60-foot (18-meter) dive to Aquarius, a 43-foot-long (18-meter-long) laboratory resting off of Key Largo, on June 1 following years of preparation and delay.

While Cousteau's goal was to attract more support for ocean conservation, teams of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Northeastern University rotated through the laboratory studying the impact of changing seas on underwater life.

The ability to live underwater allowed researchers to leave the habitat several times a day, including the middle of the night, to collect samples from nearby coral reefs and observe marine life in otherwise impossible circumstances.

Aquarius is air conditioned and equipped with wireless Internet access, a shower, a bathroom and six bunks, as well as portholes that give the occupants a 24-hour view of the surrounding marine life.

Despite a successful trip the month-long stay called Mission 31 was not without its challenges.

"One night the air conditioning stopped working and it got to 95 degrees (35 C) and 95 percent humidity," said Andrew Shantz, a Ph.D. candidate in marine eco-science at Florida International University, who spent 17 days in the lab in the beginning of June.

"We saw a Goliath grouper attack a big barracuda, which is something I never imagined happening," Shantz said.

The previous record for living under water was held by Cousteau's grandfather, who in 1963 spent 30 days in a similar facility in depths of about 30 feet (9 meters) in the Red Sea.

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