Save Aquarius Reef Base

Preserving Aquarius Reef Base, the world's only undersea research laboratory for future generations of ocean explorers.

Short Summary

People once dreamed of living under the sea. Today, we are not only doing it,
but also using undersea living as an extraordinary tool to conduct cutting-edge
coral reef research, test innovative undersea equipment and tele-robotic surgical
instruments, train the next generation of astronauts and sailors, and to inspire
future generations of scientists, educators and leaders.

Through the extended bottom time provided by Aquarius, the precious gift
of time, marine scientists have begun to find the answers to many questions
facing policy makers and managers responsible for the wise use of our national
resources. Results address the use of marine reserves as a management tool to
conserve coral reef fisheries, understanding coral feeding biology and
reproduction, figuring out the impacts of elevated seawater temperature on coral biology and so much more.

Unfortunately the President’s 2013 budget proposal includes the termination of the National Undersea Research Program (NURP), which includes Aquarius.

Aquarius' Annual Operating Budget is $3M.

What We Need & What You Get

With government funding for Aquarius set to end in December, the Aquarius Foundation has set a goal of raising $750,000 by December 31, 2012. Achieving this fundraising goal will allow Aquarius to maintain core staff and undertake critical maintenance in 2013 in preparation for a full mission season in 2014. Through this campaign we are hoping to raise $100,000 which will be put towards the much larger goal set by the Aquarius Foundation.

You will recieve limited edition, autographed or one-of-a-kind merchandise for your contribution. You will also receive the satisfaction of knowing you're part of the solution to the crisis affecting our oceans and reefs.

The Aquarius Foundation has been established to build upon the rich history of man's quest to live beneath the sea and serve as a catalyst for learning, discovery, and creativity through education and outreach. If the goal to maintain operations at Aquarius Reef Base is not realised the foundation will continue their efforts to spawn the next generation of solvers and seekers through education, outreach and scholarships.

Why Aquarius is Important

Examples of recent scientific studies conducted using Aquarius:

• A team of scientists discovered that internal waves bring as much as 20-40 times more nitrogen and phosphorus to the upper Florida Keys outer reef tract than estimates of nutrient pollution from sewage and storm water runoff.
• Collaborative research on coral reefs revealed surprisingly high pumping
rates and rates of nitrogen exchange in reef sponges. A ‘denitrifying effect’ of some sponges, which may counteract other sponge nitrification to help maintain the health of a reef system, has also been identified.
• Coral restoration and resilience experiments have been conducted since 2007 to increase understanding of the factors that affect the survival of coral transplants as a way to begin restore damaged reefs.
• Experiments to determine how herbivore diversity may be most productively managed to restore damaged reefs to desired states of health and ecosystem function.
• Scientsits have begun to zero in on the causes of ocean acidification, which is contributing to the degradation of coral reefs. Of particular interest: whether some acidification might be caused by respiration of bottom-dwelling creatures like sponges, or whether most can be attributed to carbon emissions from an industrialized world. 

Besides accomplishing their intended goals, scientists are able to see and
experience the unexpected, at any time of day or night, and new revelations
await — like the discovery of a marine plant or animal that could produce the
next wonder drug.

Operational since 1993, Aquarius has given scientists prolonged access to the
seabed, a unique opportunity to observer the oceanic ecosystem consistently
and over time. Located within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, these studies are particularly appropriate and have direct management impacts. 

The Aquarius gives scientist and divers extended presence in a real underwater
environment that is not available through traditional scuba diving or shore-
based testing facilities. For testing and evaluation of underwater equipment,
this provides unprecedented ability to install, trouble shoot, and monitor the
performance of undersea equipment. This capability is applies to development
and testing of cutting edge technologies that are needed in ocean observing,
forecasting and modeling; and reef monitoring and restoration; as well as
extreme environment and telepresence testing for remote exploration and
medical procedures.

The similarities between living in space and undersea provide a unique means
for NASA to prepare for extreme environments. Aquarius provides NASA with an analog training environment that simulates both the International Space Station (ISS) and moon/Mars exploration missions with realism not available in other analog environments. Recently, NASA utilized Aquarius to begin addressing threats to planet Earth from potential impacts of Near Earth Asteroids. Catastrophic asteroid impacts have happened before -- and they will happen again. NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) used the Aquarius undersea laboratory to test innovative solutions to engineering challenges that will be faced by a potential manned mission to an asteroid. Additionally,

• The undersea habitat provides an optimum environment for the crew to practice extravehicular activity preparation and maneuvers.

• The isolation and constrained aquanaut quarters, the harsh environment and reduced gravity presents challenges similar to those that will be encountered during a deep space mission.

NASA has also used Aquarius to better understand the rigors of space life on the
human body:

• Studies of how the pressurized environment affects sleep and the body’s immune system, the growth of bacteria in the habitat, the use of wireless medical monitoring equipment and nutrition-related studies.

• Testing of an In-suit Doppler to look for nitrogen bubbles in the blood stream, which could provide an early warning of possible decompression sickness.

• Use of innovative telerobotic technology to test remote surgery procedures on a mock patient; with simulated lunar and martian delays.

Additionally, a partnership between Aquarius and the US Navy provides in-water saturation diving training; a capability that the Navy no longer supported.

But what cannot be underestimated is the impact that Aquarius has capturing
public attention and inspiring the next generation of leaders. Aquarius provides
unique resources to reach out to the public in a way that is unmatched by
other platforms or technologies. Live telepresence capabilities excite and engage
students and the public in learning about the ocean, science, exploration, and undersea technology. Aquarius has the power to captivate, inspire and fuel the
passion of tomorrow’s leaders so desperately needed to face the challenges confronting this coral reefs and the oceans in general.

Other Ways You Can Help

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