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Educators in Florida aim to set record for longest stint in an underwater habitat

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On July 14, 1992, aquanaut Richard Presley surfaced from a lagoon in Key Largo, ecstatic to see “the colors, the sun and all these palm trees” after 69 days and 19 minutes of living in the sea.

It was a world record.

There was hope the effort would spark renewed interest in underwater habitats, which exploded onto the world scene in the 1960s and ’70s with more than 60 located in 17 countries but died off in the 1980s for lack of funding.

That didn’t happen, and for the past 22 years, no one attempted to break Presley’s record. Until now.

Two educators from a college in landlocked Tennessee — one a 62-year-old Vietnam veteran turned biology professor and the other a 24-year-old adjunct professor — plan to take the plunge on the 4th October in the same Emerald Lagoon where Presley made history.

If all goes according to plan, Bruce Cantrell and Jessica Fain of Roane State Community College will re-emerge 72 days later from the 600-square-foot underwater habitat —which also serves as the Jules Undersea Lodge — with a new record.

More importantly, they hope to surface with the successful completion of their primary mission: to engage young people in marine biology and underwater exploration.

“We’re not conducting experiments; we’re not trying to discover any new species,” Cantrell said. “Our main goal is to be able to broadcast under the water to show kids what it is like and to get them excited that this science is real.”

Habitat 2From the habitat, Cantrell will teach an online biology class to his students back at Roane State. And the duo will host a once-a-week live broadcast, available free online, on ocean topics. The feat should be easy considering that in 1995, ocean pioneers Scott Carpenter and Ian Koblick spoke from the habitat to astronaut Mike Gernhardt, who was aboard the space shuttle Endeavour.

The programs will feature experts and celebrity guests, including astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon.

“Buzz will talk about Mars and how we can learn more about exploring Mars by being in the weightlessness of the ocean,” said Koblick, who owns the habitat and is founder of the Marine Resources Development Foundation, a partner in the project.

“We are not doing this just to set a world record, which would just be a publicity stunt,” Koblick said. “I want to do this to get a message out about the status of our oceans. That’s why our program title is: ‘Our Seas – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.’ ”

Other program topics will include underwater archaeology, the Caribbean’s lionfish invasion, the effects of climate change on the oceans and the success of coral restoration.

Koblick, of Key Largo, wrote the book Living and Working in the Sea. In 1969, he worked on the Tektite I mission, in which four U.S. Department of Interior scientists set what was then the saturated diving record of nearly 60 days in a federally funded underwater habitat in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Koblick also has lived under the sea several times; his longest stint was three weeks in Tektite in 1970. That was followed a few years later by a couple of two-week stints in La Chalupa Research Laboratory, which he developed and operated in more than 100 feet of water off the coast of Puerto Rico until funding ran out in 1976.

La Chalupa is now Jules Undersea Lodge. Koblick said he didn’t know what had happened to the lab until he saw a movie that showed it virtually abandoned in Miami. He rescued it, placing it in the lagoon just offshore in only 21 feet of water. Hours-long decompression stops are not required to surface from that depth.

For their world record attempt, the Tennessee professors will have plenty of surface support from volunteers, who will buy their food, do their laundry and take out their garbage.

They know what they’re getting into. Cantrell has spent nearly 200 hours in the habitat, 24 hours at a time, for educational programs with the Marine Resources Development Foundation. He started coming to the marine facility 12 years ago for a teachers’ workshop. He later brought students. Fain has been coming to the facility for three years and has spent 80 hours in the habitat.

While it’s 600 square feet, nearly half of it is a wet room where SCUBA gear is put on and taken off. There’s only 320 square feet of living space, divided into two bedrooms and a common area.

“It is surreal living there, like you are in a fishbowl,” Fain said. “You’ve got fish swimming by the window looking at you.”

She said the mental part of spending nearly 10 weeks in close quarters without sunshine will be as difficult as the physical part. “It will not be a cakewalk,” she said. “We know we will get on each other’s nerves.”

They will spend most of their time working on their weekly programs and the online class. They also will dive the lagoon, not to conduct science but to clean it.

“We’ll be scrubbing the outside of the habitat, cleaning the windows and using a vacuum system to suck the algae out of the lagoon,” Fain said.

Cantrell is a longtime member of the Cousteau Society, whose mission is to protect and explore the ocean world. In 1985, he attended Cousteau’s 75th birthday party in Virginia.

Coincidentally, Fabian Cousteau, a grandson of the famed ocean explorer, is planning a 31-day saturation mission in the world’s only offshore underwater habitat that is still functioning — Aquarius, also in Key Largo. It’s tentatively set for May, but could be delayed by difficulties raising the estimated $1.8 million budget.

Koblick is looking for national sponsors to cover the $250,000 cost of his mission. He’s got one in mind that he thinks would be a great fit: Papa John’s Pizza. After all, he said, “They already deliver to the habitat.”

 

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Murex Bangka Announce New Oceanfront Cottages & Beachfront Dining

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dive resort indonesia

Located on a private, palm-fringed, white sand beach and surrounded by kaleidoscopic coral reefs that are bursting with colour and teeming with life, Murex Bangka Resort is a haven for scuba divers. A stay at Murex Bangka gives divers the opportunity to experience a virtually untouched, Indonesian tropical island paradise.

This stunning resort that harnesses solar power, is committed to sustainability and marine conservation – is now offering divers even more home comforts with the completion of its new Premium Oceanfront Cottages and a new restaurant offering exciting indoor and al fresco dining experiences.

NEW Premium Oceanfront Cottages

Murex Bangka Resort offers a duplex style and two detached Premium Oceanfront Cottages which are positioned close to the ocean and are just steps away from the beach.

These tastefully appointed and spacious air-conditioned rooms offer comfortable indoor living and large verandas with outdoor seating. Double and twin bed sleeping configurations are available and all Premium Oceanfront Cottages feature large ensuite bathrooms with twin basins.

dive resort indonesia

As well as the detached cottages, the duplex option offers two more individual premium living spaces. For families and groups of friends, the two adjoining duplex cottages and the shared adjoining common living room area may be opened up – making this an ideal and generously proportioned for option for families and groups who prefer to stay closer together.

dive resort indonesia

PREMIUM OCEANFRONT COTTAGE INCLUSIONS:

  • Large verandas with ceiling fans
  • Ensuite ocean view bathrooms with hot water rainfall showers
  • AC throughout the night
  • Minibar
  • Dressing table/desk area
  • Ample storage
  • King size or twin beds with mosquito nets
  • Complimentary drinking water
  • Floor to ceiling windows
  • Ample wall sockets for charging accessories
  • Comfortable indoor and outdoor seating
  • Shared common/living area (Duplex Cottages)

dive resort indonesia

New Beachfront Dining

After a day of diving, guests can now kick-back, relax and enjoy flavours from around the world in Murex Bangka’s new beachfront restaurant. As well as serving a la carte dishes from the inspiring menu, diners can enjoy both buffet and family-style offerings.

Dishes combine the freshest of local ingredients and include options for a range of dietary preferences and restrictions. Bangka’s new menu has been carefully curated with the assistance of an internationally renowned food and beverage consultant and there is a focus on combining traditional classics with more contemporary international plates.

dive resort indonesia

The new and impressive free standing main restaurant allows guests to dine just meters from the shore while enjoying beautiful beach and sea views. Three meals a day are on offer as well as an enticing selection of specialty coffees, teas, mocktails and cocktails. A wine menu is also available and a cold beer (or beverage of your choosing) makes for a perfect way to end the day while watching the sunset over the ocean.

dive resort indonesia

Book Your Stay

If you would like to find out more about Murex Bangka or to make a reservation, contact: reservations@MurexResorts.com or take a look at the Murex Resorts website: https://murexresorts.com/murex-bangka-resort/

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Oceanic+ Dive Housing Awarded the Red Dot Product Design Award 2024

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oceanic+

Oceanic, a pioneer in scuba diving technology for over 50 years, announces that its Oceanic+ Dive Housing has been honored with the prestigious 2024 Red Dot Design Award. This esteemed recognition underscores Oceanic’s commitment to innovation and excellence in product design.

The Red Dot Award is an internationally renowned accolade, celebrating exceptional design quality and innovation across various industries. Each year, thousands of products from around the globe undergo rigorous evaluation by an expert panel of judges, with only the most outstanding designs receiving this esteemed award.

The Oceanic+ Dive Housing impressed the jury with its sleek and functional design, seamlessly integrating with both Apple Watch Ultra and iPhone devices to transform them into fully functional dive computers. This innovative product not only enhances the diving experience but also exemplifies Oceanic’s dedication to providing cutting-edge solutions for divers worldwide.

“We are thrilled to receive the 2024 Red Dot Product Design Award for the Oceanic+ Dive Housing,” says Mike Huish, CEO of Huish Outdoors. “This accolade is a testament to our relentless pursuit of excellence in design and technology in the dive industry. We are immensely proud of our team’s hard work and commitment to innovation.”

The Oceanic+ Dive Housing joins the ranks of previous Red Dot Award winners, reaffirming Oceanic’s position as a leader in the dive industry. This prestigious recognition further solidifies Oceanic’s reputation for delivering exceptional quality and performance in its products.

About Oceanic

Founded in 1972 by industry-pioneer Bob Hollis, Oceanic is a global dive leader committed to providing innovative, reliable, accessible and easy-to-use dive equipment to recreational divers so they can focus on what matters most: exploring the underwater world and appreciating the wonders of marine life. For over 50 years this philosophy has been woven into everything Oceanic does and is the foremost reason the company is considered a best-in-class, recreational dive brand. Oceanic is one of Huish Outdoors’ premier dive brands. To learn more, please visit oceanicworldwide.com.

Sea & Sea is the home of Oceanic and other leading diving brands in the UK. 

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