June 6, 2009

Cousteau Inspires 10-Year Sea Exploration Adventure

A crew of adventurers looking to examine the world's most important underwater treasures are taking to the high seas on a decade-long mission inspired by explorer Jacques Cousteau, AFP reported.

In a bid to boost interest in the seas, the Antinea Foundation, a Swiss-based marine conservation group, will connect their old-fashioned adventure to a modern audience via the Internet.

The crew has dubbed it the "Changing Oceans" expedition, which is set to launch from the French port of Marseille.

Their mission is to explore some 100 marine reserves over 10 years and raise awareness about protection of the seas.

The team will travel aboard a converted World War II ship named "Fleur de Passion" (Passion Flower), where a diverse group of scientists, divers and camera crews will ship out to sea on July 11.

Albert Falco, Cousteau's former right-hand man, said during an expedition launch event in Geneva, "The sea needs to be protected."

"The real danger is man... we're the sharks," said the 82 year-old Falco, who is one of the patrons of the expedition, which involves more than 1,000 collaborators.

The late Jacques Cousteau was a renowned French naval officer who dedicated himself to the study of the sea and all forms of life in water. He co-developed the aqua-lung, pioneered marine conservation and was a member of the Acad©mie Française.

The foundation will be transmitting underwater images and scientific discoveries into people's homes through the Internet

Other planned methods include the use of real-time link-ups with divers and three-dimensional mapping on Google Earth.

The crew also plans to capture and install a camera onto a blue shark off the French coast in order to more closely observe the behavior of the species.

Focusing on the west Mediterranean, the explorers plan to investigate such sites as the Pelagos whale and dolphin sanctuary off Italy and France, the coasts of Corsica, Croatia and the Eolian Islands.

The Antinea Foundation promotes the protection and exploration of the underwater world. The foundation is backed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The group says just 10 to 20 percent of the oceans have been explored, yet some 80 percent of life on Earth is found in the sea.

Many marine specialists point to the depletion of fish stocks as just one sign that the marine environment is being destroyed.

The seas are also natural regulators of the air we breathe and of the Earth's climate.


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