Monster Machines: Live The Life Aquatic Without Getting Wet

Who wouldn’t want to swim with the fishes like Jacque Cousteau? The problem is scuba diving requires training and lots of expensive equipment to do safely, not what you want to deal with on a Caribbean holiday. But aboard the Curasub, you’ll be able to explore the ocean’s depths without getting your feet wet.

The Curasub is a six-tonne, five person mini-submarine based on the venerated Aquarius submersible design and capable of reaching depths of 300m. The craft has room for a pilot and four tourists, who view undersea landscapes unreachable to divers through 40-inch acrilyc viewports. Based in the island nation of Curaçao, the Curasub is operated by Substation Curaçao. It launches from 39m long Chapman, a former NOAA research vessel now owned by the University of Puerto Rico, for four, 1.5 hour-long, $650 forays daily. A 100-tonne knuckle boom crane plucks the mini-sub from the ship’s rear deck and deposits it in the water.

In addition to shuttling tourists to the seafloor for photo opportunities, the Curaub is also used in oceanographic research expeditions as well. After a million dollar overhaul to the Chapman last year, the Curasub launched last week on a shakedown tour to study life below the photic zone (200m), where sunlight cannot penetrate. Researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands hope to gain insights into the ecology of the Dutch Caribbean reef and potentially find species new to science. The expedition is scheduled to return to port with its haul of science booty today.

[Livescience, Substation Curaçao]