For 25 years, the Aquarius Reef Base, an undersea laboratory that sleeps six?off of Key Largo, has served as host to numerous marine biologists and NASA astronauts. Even the Ocean Doctor has paid a visit to Aquarius. But after years of declining budgets, the Obama administration has eliminated the base’s funding, and the world’s last remaining undersea lab is faced with decommissioning — or finding its own funding. NPR reports that Dr. Sylvia Earle and other researchers are now conducting a mission of outreach and education in Aquarius to help save it.
Last week, at Aquarius Reef’s training facility in Key Largo, Fla., [Dr. Sylvia A.] Earle said she’s disappointed that saturation diving and the undersea research facilities that make it possible are still uncommon today.
For marine researchers, she says, it’s all about what she calls “the gift of time.”
“This difference in perspective you get when you don’t have to bounce in and out ? you have the ability to stay for hours and hours and watch that fish do its thing,” she says, “or conduct an experiment without constantly looking at your watch saying, ‘I’ve got three minutes left, I’ve got to go.’ ”
There have been about 50 undersea research bases like Aquarius Reef around the world. Today, it’s the last one that remains devoted to scientific research.
…Read the full story at With Funding Gone, Last Undersea Lab Could Surface (NPR)