It’s been a big week for inventions named for the shape-shifting, fortune-telling Greek sea god, Proteus. On Monday we looked at Proteus, the world’s first manufactured non-cuttable material, and now there’s Proteus, the world’s most advanced underwater research station and habitat – though in this case the naming is probably more to do with Proteus’ status as the grandson of Poseidon himself.
Fabien Cousteau knows a thing or two about being descended from sea gods. His grandfather Jacques made the family name synonymous with the ocean through a series of hugely popular and influential books, films and TV shows – not to mention being the co-inventor of the scuba underwater breathing device, getting divers out of diving bells to really immerse themselves in the underwater world. If any man could hold Poseidon’s mighty trident as the human equivalent of a sea god, Jacques Cousteau fits the bill.
Young Fabien, now 52, has very much carried on the family business. Learning to scuba dive at the age of four, he’s gone on to be one of this generations highest-profile ocean conservationists and documentary makers. Last time we caught up with him back in 2013, he was preparing for a month-long research mission in the Aquarius Reef Base 62 feet under the surface off the Florida Keys.
He can’t have been satisfied with his accommodations, because now, with the help of industrial designer Yves Behar, he’s planning to build the largest underwater lab on the planet. His grandad, of course, had a few cracks at the idea himself. Jacques Cousteau’s Conshelf 1, 2 and 3 were, respectively, the first underwater habitat to be lived in, the first live-in sea floor laboratory, and the first underwater habitat more than 100 meters (330 feet) below the surface.