NOAA's Aquarius- World's Only Undersea Research Station

The Aquarius Underwater Laboratory: America's "Inner Space" Station


NOAA Ocean and Atmospheric Research

The University of North Carolina - Wilmington and Chapel Hill

Chris Martens

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Narrator: (Sound of water.) Where on Earth do scientists go to study our ocean world? They go four miles off the coast of Florida to Aquarius Reef Base.

The laboratory, owned by NOAA and operated by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, is an 80-ton steel chamber that rests in a sand plain adjacent to deep coral reefs. Located in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Aquarius supports one of the longest running and detailed coral reef monitoring programs in the world. This program provides valuable information to manage and protect this ecosystem.

Sponges can pump and filter seawater up to 100,000 times their own volume each day. Nutrients that are pumped through sponges impact the quality of water on the reef and its ability to support coral growth.

Scientists have tested a new underwater spectrophotometer, which is an instrument that measures light intensity. Underwater measurements of UV light will help them understand the impact of UV light on coral reef ecosystems.

Aquarius researchers have also created a linked ocean observing system consisting of buoy, seafloor, and water column sensors. These sensors provide real-time data on water temperature, water salinity, waves, and currents.

Aquarius Reef Base is now being readied for the next team of scientists and technology experts to help us better understand, manage, and protect our ocean and its resources.

Nat Sound: (Voice from inside the habitat) Hey you missed a spot.