Fabien Cousteau, grandson of famed marine explorer Jacques Coustsear, has one week remaining in an experiment in underwater living beneath the Atlantic Ocean off Florida.
Living since June 1 in a stationary habitat 63 feet beneath the sea near Key West, Cousteau has expressed no desire to come back up to the surface.
"If anything, I'm panicking about the lack of time we have left," he said. "I'm feeling really comfortable and happy down here."
Cousteau has been living inside the Aquarius Reef Base as part of a project dubbed Mission 31, with the goal of raising public awareness of the need to protect the globe's oceans.
It's also meant to honor a historic similar mission his grandfather undertook 50 years ago, when Jacques Cousteau and a team spent 30 days in an underwater habitat called Conshelf II in the Red Sea, to prove that living and working in a high pressure underwater environment was possible for long durations.
Fabien Cousteau has been sharing the Aquarius habitat, which is owned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and operated by Florida International University, with scientists from that university and from Northeastern University.
Living in the habitat, from which they can dive and study the environment, has provided the researchers with unparalleled access to the surrounding coral reef, Cousteau said.
"The FIU researchers have accomplished more than six months' worth of data gathering in just two weeks because they were here, living under the sea in this undersea habitat," he said. "This highlights how important a habitat is for scientific research as well as outreach."
Having the habitat available allows scientists to spend hours in research dives without having to return to the surface or undergo decompression.
The 81-ton Aquarius is 43 feet long by about 20 feet wide and can accommodate six people, providing beds, climate control, a mini kitchen and hot water.
The public has been able to follow the progress of Mission 31 through live online broadcasts.
There have been no serious medical issues or technical glitches with the exception of an air conditioning problem that had the Aquarius inhabitants temporarily having to endure temperatures of 98 degrees and 100 percent humidity.
"It was extraordinarily uncomfortable, like sleeping in the Amazon, minus the bugs," Cousteau said.
During the mission Cousteau and his research partners have been studying ocean acidification, climate change, marine pollution and the decline of biodiversity.
"I think it's paramount to learn more about the ocean, not just for science, which is incredibly important, but also for ourselves," Cousteau said. "This is our life support system. Otherwise, we are just a little brown rock in space like all the others. There's no such thing as healthy people without a healthy ocean."