“Ocean exploration is 1,000 times more important than space exploration for — selfishly — our survival, for our trajectory into the future,” Cousteau said over a video call, with Béhar. “It’s our life support system. It is the very reason why we exist in the first place.”
The newly unveiled design is the latest step for this ambitious project. According to Cousteau, it will take three years until Proteus is installed, though the coronavirus pandemic has already delayed the project.
Though oceans cover 71 percent of the world’s surface, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates that humans have only explored about 5 percent and mapped less than 20 percent of the world’s seas.
Space exploration receives more attention and funding than its aquatic counterpart, which Cousteau hopes to remedy with Proteus — and eventually a worldwide network of underwater research habitats. Facilities stationed in different oceans could warn of tsunamis and hurricanes, Cousteau said. They could also pioneer ambitious new research into sustainability, energy and robotics.