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Conshelf II - A view from our expert author


Conshelf II’s airtight dome is probably the closest thing to a Holy Grail for modern divers.

The reef at Sha’ab (sha’ab meaning ‘reef’) Rumi is the site of one of the most intriguing projects carried out under the sea. Jacques Cousteau, pioneer of scuba diving, chose the site for his Conshelf II experiment in underwater living, made famous in his award-winning film, World Without Sun. Naval officer Jacques Cousteau developed the aqualung during World War II when he was part of the French Resistance. A devoted spear-fisherman, he went on to become a pioneering marine conservationist and advocate of the oceans. As the producer of hugely successful films in the 1960s and 1970s, he brought the world beneath the waves to millions from his ship Calypso.

Less rich in sealife than its southern neighbour, Sha’ab Rumi West makes up for this with its history. A lagoon behind the reef contains the remnants of Conshelf II. A dive here allows you to get in touch with scuba history. The ‘starfish’ living quarters were removed in 1963, but the submarine garage remains, now totally covered with soft corals. It’s still airtight and you can even surface inside the dome’s upper section. Also covered with corals are three fish pens nearby, and a shark pen at a depth of 27m.

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