NOAA and Proteus Ocean Group have signed a formal agreement to build the first "underwater space station of the ocean," called PROTEUS, off the Caribbean island of Curaçao.

The first “underwater space station of the ocean” to study marine life and climate change is closer to reality now that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Proteus Ocean Group have agreed to develop and build the underwater habitat.

PROTEUS will be built off the Caribbean island of Curaçao, NOAA and Proteus Ocean Group announced Wednesday after signing a formal agreement last month.

The new lab will allow scientists, innovators and even private citizens to live underwater for extended periods of time to study the diverse biology at the ocean floor and learn new ways to protect the ocean and Earth from climate change. While PROTEUS is still in development, there is no timeline yet for construction to begin.

“This partnership has the potential to greatly expand our capabilities in studying the ocean,” Jeremy Weirich, director of NOAA Ocean Exploration, said in a statement.

“By living underwater for extended periods in this new ocean laboratory, we’ll be able to unlock the ocean’s mysteries so that we can better manage, sustainably use, protect and appreciate its resources.”

Proteus Ocean Group, and Jacques Cousteau’s grandson Fabian Cousteau, completed a site-mapping mission in Curaçao last year to get a better picture of the seafloor for PROTEUS’ future home.

“On PROTEUS we will have unbridled access to the ocean 24/7, making possible long-term studies with continuous human observation and experimentation,” said Fabien Cousteau, founder and chief ocean explorer of Proteus Ocean Group.

PROTEUS will include the use of hydroponics, which will allow inhabitants inside the underwater lab to grow fresh plant life for food. The habitat will be powered by wind and solar. It will also include a full-scale video production facility to provide continuous live streaming for educational purposes.

“The ocean world is a very inaccessible and hostile environment that poses a lot of challenges, and throughout my lifetime as an ocean explorer and aquanaut, one of the biggest challenges is the limit of time at the bottom of the sea on the final frontier,” said Cousteau.

“With NOAA’s collaboration, the discoveries we can make – in relation to climate refugia, super corals, life-saving drugs, micro environmental data tied to climate events and many others – will be truly groundbreaking.”


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