From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to navigationJump to searchThis article is about underwater habitats for humans. For marine life habitats, see Marine habitats.West German underwater laboratory, “Helgoland”, 2010
Underwater habitats are underwater structures in which people can live for extended periods and carry out most of the basic human functions of a 24-hour day, such as working, resting, eating, attending to personal hygiene, and sleeping. In this context ‘habitat‘ is generally used in a narrow sense to mean the interior and immediate exterior of the structure and its fixtures, but not its surrounding marine environment. Most early underwater habitats lacked regenerative systems for air, water, food, electricity, and other resources. However, recently some new underwater habitats allow for these resources to be delivered using pipes, or generated within the habitat, rather than manually delivered.
An underwater habitat has to meet the needs of human physiology and provide suitable environmental conditions, and the one which is most critical is breathing air of suitable quality. Others concern the physical environment (pressure, temperature, light, humidity), the chemical environment (drinking water, food, waste products, toxins) and the biological environment (hazardous sea creatures, microorganisms, marine fungi). Much of the science covering underwater habitats and their technology designed to meet human requirements is shared with diving, diving bells, submersible vehicles and submarines, and spacecraft.
Numerous underwater habitats have been designed, built and used around the world since the early 1960s, either by private individuals or by government agencies. They have been used almost exclusively for research and exploration, but in recent years at least one underwater habitat has been provided for recreation and tourism. Research has been devoted particularly to the physiological processes and limits of breathing gases under pressure, for aquanaut and astronaut training, as well as for research on marine ecosystems.
- 1Terminology and scope
- 2Technical classification and description
- 4Existing underwater habitats
- 5Conceptual underwater habitats
- 6In popular culture
- 7See also
- 9External links
Terminology and scope
The term ‘underwater habitat’ is used for a range of applications, including some structures that are not exclusively underwater while operational, but all include a significant underwater component. There may be some overlap between underwater habitats and submersible vessels, and between structures which are completely submerged and those which have some part extending above the surface when in operation.
In 1970 G. Haux stated:
At this point it must also be said that it is not easy to sharply define the term “underwater laboratory”. One may argue whether Link’s diving chamber which was used in the “Man-in-Sea I” project, may be called an underwater laboratory. But the Bentos 300, planned by the Soviets, is not so easy to classify as it has a certain ability to maneuver. Therefore, the possibility exists that this diving hull is classified elsewhere as a submersible. Well, a certain generosity can not hurt.
Comparison with surface based diving operations
In an underwater habitat, observations can be carried out at any hour to study the behavior of both diurnal and nocturnal organisms. Habitats in shallow water can be used to accommodate divers from greater depths for a major portion of th