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This article is about human aquanauts. For Aquanauts, the Lego toys, see Lego Aquazone.
Aquanaut Josef Schmid working outside the Aquarius underwater laboratory in 2007.

An aquanaut is any individual who remains underwater, exposed to the ambient pressure, long enough to come into equilibrium with his or her breathing media. Usually this is done in an underwater habitat on the seafloor for a period equal to or greater than 24 continuous hours without returning to the surface. The term is often restricted to scientists and academics, though there were a group of military aquanauts during the SEALAB program. Commercial Divers in similar circumstances are referred to as Saturation Divers. An aquanaut is distinct from a submariner, in that a submariner is confined to a moving underwater vehicle such as a submarine that holds the water pressure out. Aquanaut derives from the Latin word aqua ("water") plus the Greek nautes ("sailor"), by analogy to the similar construction "astronaut".

The first human aquanaut was Robert Sténuit, who lived on board a tiny one-man cylinder at 200 feet (61 m) for 24 hours in September 1962 off Villefranche-sur-Mer on the French Riviera.[1][2][3] Military aquanauts include Robert Sheats, author Robin Cook, and astronauts Scott Carpenter and Alan Shepard. Civilian aquanaut Berry L. Cannon died of carbon dioxide poisoning during the U.S. Navy's SEALAB III project.[4][5][6] Scientific aquanauts include Richard Cooper, Stephen Neudecker, Al Waterfield, Jonathan Helfgott, Robert Dill, Sylvia Earle, Ian Koblick, Neil Monney, Chris Olstad, Joseph B. MacInnis,[7] John Perry, Harold "Wes" Pratt (on whom the character Matt "Winch" Hooper in Jaws was based), Phillip Sharkey, Dick Rutkowski, Alina Szmant, Bill High, Phil Nuytten, Matthew Morgan, Steven Miller, Morgan Wells, C. Lavett Smith and about 700 others, including the crew members (many of them astronauts) of NASA's NEEMO missions at the Aquarius underwater laboratory.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sténuit, Robert (1966). The Deepest Days. Trans. Morris Kemp. New York: Coward-McCann. 
  2. ^ Ecott, Tim (2001). Neutral Buoyancy: Adventures in a Liquid World. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press. pp. 249–250. ISBN 0-87113-794-1. LCCN 2001018840. 
  3. ^ Norton, Trevor (2006). Underwater to Get Out of the Rain: a love affair with the sea. Da Capo Press. p. 191. ISBN 0-306-81487-0. 
  4. ^ Ecott, pp. 264-266.
  5. ^ staff (1969-02-28). "Oceanography: Death in the Depths". Time (magazine). Retrieved 2013-04-14. 
  6. ^ Davis, Michael (1979). "Immersion hypothermia in scuba diving.". South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society Journal (reprint from New Zealand Journal of Sports Medicine) 9 (2). Retrieved 2013-04-14. 
  7. ^ "DRJOEMACINNIS.COM". Retrieved December 29, 2011. 


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