I grew up alongside the Mediterranean soar, within the south of France. My first swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving took design on the Riviera. As time passed, and the Mediterranean grew to become my official home heinous, I watched this torrentially visited soar be ravaged by unbridled model—and I additionally noticed, at depths of more than 150 feet or so, worlds that also seemed intact. Till lately, then again, I’d gotten most attention-grabbing transient glimpses of them. Whenever you’re scuba diving, it takes four to six hours correct to ascend from such depths; you might per chance perchance also have to decompress slowly to preserve far from death from the bends. So time on the underside is frustratingly brief, most frequently most attention-grabbing 5 or 10 minutes.
In July 2019 we changed that. For 28 straight days my four-man crew lived in a miniature, pressurized habitat on a barge within the Mediterranean, respiratory a high-tension combine of helium and oxygen, descending to the seafloor day to day in a diving bell. We labored like saturation divers within the offshore oil alternate—however in disagreement to such divers, who in general are tethered to a bell by an umbilical, we placed on scuba gear, with rebreathers that filtered carbon dioxide from our exhalations. That intended we might per chance perchance also come across the underside freely—for hours, no longer minutes.
Because both the bell and the habitat (and the bathroom in between) were kept at the identical high tension as the seafloor—as mighty as 13 events surface tension—we didn’t have to decompress on every occasion we ascended. As yet every other we decompressed correct once at the finish of the mission, for practically about 5 days, earlier than opening the heavy metal hatch of our pill and respiratory the initiating air every other time.