The sea is a place of mystery, intrigue, and grandeur.
Ask anyone who’s spent plenty of time underwater and they will tell you that it’s an entirely different world out there.
That being said, it comes as no surprise that the yearning to discover more is unwavering. Divers and scientists alike go on expeditions. Others have stretched as far as establishing the world’s first and only underwater ocean laboratory.
They call it Aquarius, the NASA of the ocean. It’s located in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary three and a half miles off-shore in Conch Reef. Deployed 60 feet beneath the surface, the lab has been around since 1993 and has fought plenty of political battles to stay there. It almost faced budget elimination back in 2012 but was thankfully saved by the Florida International University.
Ben Hellwarth once wrote, “Ironically, Aquarius’s low cost has likely contributed to its low profile. The program can be cut precisely because ordinary citizens haven’t heard of it because it isn’t expensive enough to be worth cutting. The lab is a perfect example of practical spending.”
Now that it’s passed its tribulations, Aquarius has wasted no time exploring the deep blue sea in hopes of unlocking its secrets. It’s home to scientists who stay underwater for ten-day missions and since its establishment, it has sought over 60 missions.
The Florida International University takes pride in saving the underwater institution, saying: “At Aquarius, scientists are at the cutting edge of research on coral reefs, ocean acidification, climate change, fisheries and the overall health of the oceans. … Universities, government agencies, and private industry have conducted more than 120 missions to discover, preserve, train and innovate. More than 600 scientific research papers have been published based on Aquarius science.”