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July 7, 2014

Scientists dive deep to explore climate change’s effects on the world’s sealife


Six scientists recently spent a month studying the effects of climate change on coral reefs in one of the world’s only underwater labs. The scientists spent six to eight hours a day underwater off the coast of Key Largo in Florida. The mission leader of the project was none other than Fabien Cousteau, the grandson of legendary ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

The lab is 63 feet underwater and consists of an outside wet lab and an inside dry lab. The team studied issues related to climate change, ocean acidification and pollution.

There is a clear distinction between an underwater lab more than 60 feet below the surface and research conducted by diving into the water from a boat, said Cousteau.

The ocean is the “final frontier on our living planet,” claims Cousteau, and the underwater lab is “unadulterated and unlimited by time.”

With a permanent underwater research space, the team was able to take as much time as needed to study and film coral reefs and fish.

“In order to film a fish you must become a fish,” the researcher said, quoting his famous grandfather. And with the underwater lab, each scientist was able to become as close to being a fish as humanly possible.

Cousteau said he and his team have seen things no one has seen before.

“Fish sleeping in sponges, a goliath grouper attacking a barracuda…Christmas tree worms,” Cousteau named a few sights.

“It’s just science fiction, it’s really amazing down here.”

Warm up questions
  1. What does a marine biologist do?
  2. How is the state of our ocean’s coral reefs?
  3. What do you know about pollution on Earth?
  4. Who is Jacques Cousteau? What did he do?
Discussion questions
  1. Fabien Cousteau said the underwater lab gave his team more time to research. What other pros could there be to having an underwater lab as opposed to diving from a boat?
  2. What factors can cause climate change?
  3. Do you think it’s important to study underwater climate change?
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