At the One World One Ocean website, researchers have been constantly posting the newest updates on what could be their final stay at the last undersea research station. The lab, located 60 feet below the surface at the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, suffered a $3 million budget cut and can now only depend on private funding.
The research station called the Aquarius is actually more like an underwater pressurized habitat than a lab, where scientists can live for up two weeks at a time in order to study coral reefs and marine life closely. Scientists living in the Aquarius can go for 9-hour dives to study the ecosystem without the need for decompression since they don't have to surface once they're done — they only need to swim back to the base. Hence, Aquarius researchers — who call themselves aquanauts — can accomplish in a matter of nine days what other scientists accomplish in nine to twelve months.
The aquanauts' studies tackle many areas of underwater nature research, including how sea sponges could be used to improve the quality of water in highly polluted areas, and how and why coral reefs die. "We know more about the moon than we do about our ocean, even though the ocean sustains all life on this planet. Only by making undersea exploration and research an international priority can we learn what we need to know about the ocean to be able to protect it and protect ourselves," said Dr. Sylvia Earl, One World One Ocean science adviser, and the first person to lead an all-woman crew to the Tektite undersea habitat in 1970.
Check out the Aquarius Reef Base website for more information about the project, and find out how you can help them via donation and other means.
[via Huffington Post]
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