A New ‘Tent’ is Rewriting the Rules of Underwater Exploration

Photo Credit: Michael Lombardi

Over the years, we’ve seen mountaineers, climbers, and backpackers set up camp in some pretty unusual locations, including the sides of cliffs, mountain summits, and in impenetrable forests. Now, a new piece of gear promises to bring that same flexibility to scuba divers too, giving them the ability to camp under the ocean.

Dubbed the Ocean Space Habitat, this new “tent” is the brainchild of National Geographic explorer Michael Lombardi and associate professor at New Your University Winslow Burleson. The OSH was built to allow divers to stay underwater longer, go deeper, and remain safer than a typical scuba session would allow.  As Nat Geo says in its article about the submersible shelter, it is essentially base camp for undersea explorers.

The idea for the Ocean Space Habitat came from Lombardi’s long history of scuba diving. Divers often want to explore deeper areas of the ocean, but since they have a limited supply of oxygen they can only stay down for so long. Going deeper means a shorter time at lower depths. Of course, when they decide it’s time to go back up, they also have to stop along the way to decompress, which can take a long time and eat up precious oxygen too. The idea behind the OSH is to give divers a safe and comfortable place to relax and hang out, without having to go straight back to the surface.

In a sense, the OSH is an inflatable tent that divers can take with them under the ocean and set up at a strategic point. It uses weights and ballasts to hold it in place, providing a location for individuals to take a break before diving back in. For underwater photographers and explorers, it can be a real time saver, allowing them to stay down longer.

Burleson tells Nat Geo that the tent, “is like turning a short hike in the woods into a weekend-long camping excursion. The habitat allows you to do more of what you’re coming for, whether you’re a photographer or coral researcher or citizen scientist.”

Lombardi and Burleson have just now patented their design, but are working with partners to get it into production. They promise that it will be affordable and easy to use, making it a viable option for explorers, ocean expeditions, and recreational dive operators alike. To find out more about this interesting breakthrough, click here.

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