Anyone who has ever watched an old James Bond movie or any of the Jacques Cousteau underwater adventures can’t help but be captivated by the old scenes of tropical scuba diving, high seas adventures and the mysterious beauty of the seafloor. It was those movies, in part, that prompted me to get my scuba diving certification many years ago.
And it was a love for the sea inspired in part by these same movies, along with a challenge, and a passion for teaching which brought Roane State Roane State biology professor Bruce Cantrell and adjunct professor Jessica Fain to the underwater habitat at Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Key Largo Florida for an attempt at a record breaking 73 days under water. Bruce and Jessica have lived at the former La Chalupa research laboratory situated in over 20 feet of water in a mangrove lagoon, since October 3 and will end their epic journey on December 15, 2014. Jessica has already broken the record for amount of time spent underwater for a woman; a remarkable accomplishment and one that all girls can be proud of!
Classroom under the Sea is a series of lectures aimed at encouraging middle school children to learn about the ocean and environment and include topics such as Coral Restoration, Marine Archaeology and Fisheries: Prey and Predator. Each weekly lecture is streamed live from the underwater habitat at Jules Undersea Lodge and are now available on YouTube along with the lesson plan and other teaching resources. These make great home school projects! The last lecture is Thursday, Dec. 11, 1 p.m. EST, on The Future of Ocean Preservation and you can catch up on the lectures here.
If you ever have the opportunity to visit Key Largo in the Florida Keys, you can even dive on the habitat yourself, peeking through its windows, spotting tropical fish, anemones, and more in the quiet waters of the lagoon. Check out what it’s really like in the Jules Undersea Lodge:
And yes, even kids can dive the lagoon, as PADI, the diver training organization, will certify children as young as 10 years old! It was a remarkable experience to dive under the water and see this giant, looming white object glowing and burbling in the depths almost as if it were a a living, breathing being.
Children are naturally compelled towards water and sea creatures and even though its ending soon, the legacy of the Classroom Under the Sea mission is fantastic way to encourage a love of science, adventure and the oceans.
Classroom Under the Sea episodes were made possible through the generous support of Diversity in Aquatics, the project’s official sponsor.
Update: Mission Accomplished! On December 15, 2014, Bruce and Jessica surfaced for the first time in 73 days! Congratulations on breaking the world record and thank you for your efforts!
Planning a holiday to the fabulous Florida Keys? For more information on accommodations, things to do, maps and attractions, check out www.fla-keys.com