Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Raising an Undersea Family

Shown here is a photo of our son Eric Milton Chamberland literally departing the land to live for a day undersea. It was the day before he became certified as an aquanaut, living for more than 24 hours in a habitat in Aquatica – the great global ocean. Eric, our other children and their parents found out first hand what it was like to live as a family undersea. Although the habitat was not large enough to accommodate us all, while their parents were doing their research in the ocean, the children were still always connected. In some cases by radio and in others by frequent visits to the habitat bringing mom and dad meals, taking away their trash and just visiting.

It was not an uncommon site to see Claudia sitting in the moonpool tutoring a math problem or giving specific homeschooling instructions. On another occasion, one of the children’s SCUBA instructor sat our son Brett down on the front of the habitat and gave him his final underwater exam – just two feet from where we sat in comfort observing him, having a snack and watching the entire event. It may be the first time parents have enjoyed such a close up and comfortable view of their child being certified as an open water diver – while being in the same element with them!

On their frequent visits to the habitat, their mother Claudia would greet the children at the moonpool and then visit with them. At the end of their visit, she invariably would kiss their salty foreheads goodbye and bid them off with an undersea mom’s loving send off: “Exhale, exhale, exhale…” It’s meaning was unique among mothers on earth. Its meaning was, “Do not hold your breath while returning to the surface, it is dangerous.” While other mothers are warning their children to look both ways before crossing the street, our children’s mother invoked a similar warning, but altogether unique to families who live undersea.

Around our habitat lives a rather hostile looking four foot barracuda. While Fred (the name he was given by the local divers) never seemed to threaten or bite anyone, he was still a rather intimidating stray fish with sporting an absolutely evil looking row of razor sharp teeth. On several occasions Fred would orbit around the habitat and curiously peek inside at us. When they children were around, I would warn them by a hand sigh out the window – with the fingers of both hands together mimicking Fred’s teeth. It at least warned them to look out for Fred, although the worst damage he probably would have induced is causing someone to hurt themselves by trying to get out of his way. But hand signals out the windows to the children were essential when the sound of the voice was strictly confined to the walls of the habitat. Of course there were many other hand signals from ‘shark’ to ‘go back to the surface’ to ‘come inside’ to ‘watch your air pressure’ and ‘you’re getting cold – come inside’.

Families living under the sea will soon become a reality again. While our family may have been the first that we are aware of, and only for a painfully short period of time in 1997 and 1998 - others are sure to follow. And of the Atlantica Expeditions gets its way it will be very soon indeed. But this time, the expedition is never scheduled to end and the trips to the surface will be far less than the trips around the magnificent, crystal void of humankind’s new permanent dwelling place: Atlantica.