Living underwater is seen by some as a futuristic utopia, but whatâ€™s it actually like? Rose Eveleth asks a man who eats, works and sleeps on the sea floor â€“ the latest in her new series about the people who have already experienced the future.
The first night Deron Burkepile spent underwater was over 10 years ago, but the memory is still fresh in his mind. He remembers getting suited up â€” a couple of scuba tanks on his back, extra safety gear hanging from his rigâ€”and stepping to the back of the boat.Â â€œYouâ€™re used to getting off the boat and coming back in an hour, maybe two at most,â€ he says. â€œSo youâ€™re thinking, wow, Iâ€™m not going to see the sun again for almost two weeks.â€
After their dive, rather than going back to the boat, Burkepile and three fellow marine biologists swam on to the Aquarius underwater lab, 63ft below sea level in the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary. â€œItâ€™s getting kind of dark,â€ he remembers, â€œand the sun is going down, and youâ€™re swimming up to Aquarius which has lights all over the outside. Essentially itâ€™s just silhouetted by these big spotlights. Itâ€™s just one of the coolest experiences underwater that Iâ€™ve ever had.â€