Soliciting proposals for use of Aquarius U/W habitat

Alina M. Szmant szmanta at
Thu Jul 19 19:00:19 EDT 2001

Dear All:

The deadline for submission of proposals for coral reef or related research 
using the unique research facility provided by the U/W Habitat Aquarius is 
fast approaching.  The habitat is located at ca. 60 ft depth at the outer 
edge of the Florida reef tract, off Conch Reef.  It is an ideal research 
platform for studies that require lots and lots of U/W time and night 
diving, and/or  require access to computers and other electronic lab or 
field equipment.  It can accomodate dive teams of 4 scientists, and 
additional scientific support can be accomodated on-shore at the field 
lab.  The NURC/UNCW program tries to fund 6 to 8 research programs each 
funding year for high-quality research using the habitat.  Investigators 
can also request additional day-boat support for complimentary work in 
shallower water.

Proposals are due August 20th.  A more detailed description of the entire 
NURC RFP follows.  Please contact Dr. Steven Miller or myself if you'd like 
more information about the capabilities of the habitat, or to discuss 
potential research ideas.  We strongly encourage investigators from other 
countries to consider applying for Aquarius time.


Alina Szmant



Aquarius Underwater Laboratory in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

Aquarius is part of a multifaceted coral research program that is operated 
by The National Undersea Research Center at the University of North 
Carolina at Wilmington.  The underwater laboratory is a saturation diving 
facility located at Conch Reef, 3.5 miles offshore, approximately 60 feet 
deep, and adjacent to well developed deep spur and groove coral reefs.  The 
advantages of saturation diving from Aquarius over conventional surface 
based diving are significant:

1.  Nearly unlimited bottom time (9 hours at 95 feet or less)
2.  Platform with sophisticated power and computer capabilities to conduct 
in situ experiments
3.  Round the clock access to the coral reef that is independent of surface 
based support

Educational and outreach opportunities also exist based on newly installed 
video conferencing equipment that allows point-to-point connections 
anywhere in the world  fast and easy.  Web cameras and video streaming are 
also routinely used to support education and outreach efforts.  For more 
information please visit:

Projects are selected by peer review based on scientific merit and 
relevance to the program's mission. A maximum of $50,000 in science support 
may be requested.  Awards from previous years averaged $25,000 and are 
partly determined by NOAA funding to the center, and partly by peer review 
rankings.  Undersea system and support vessel time are provided by the 
center at no cost to the principal investigator.  A full description of the 
entire 2002 research announcement for work throughout the southeast United 
States can be found at the center's web site:

For 2002, in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the Dry 
Tortugas the following projects are identified as high priority, but 
proposals are not limited only to these topics:

      Descriptive and process based studies that evaluate the effectiveness 
of marine protected areas.

      Coral reef research and monitoring programs that help managers 
identify factors affecting the condition of coral reefs in Florida, 
especially work that helps distinguish between natural and humancaused changes.

      Studies that increase our knowledge of factors that affect 
biodiversity on coral reefs and other nearshore habitats in the Florida Keys.

      Monitoring and research projects that specifically identify factors 
responsible for causing direct and indirect effects of coral decline.  For 
example, how much coral is killed by coral bleaching, disease, and other 

      Coral studies that focus on factors affecting recruitment, including 
ecology, population genetics, and innovative work that enhances recruitment 
rates for restoration.

      Studies that measure coral growth and/or bioerosion rates, especially 
within the context of factors affecting coral reef condition.

      Innovative projects that use or develop bioindicators (at biochemical 
or organismal scales) to assess overall reef condition, or detect 
significant ecological or environmental change (e.g. nutrient enrichment, 
chemical pollution, global warming).  Whole organism studies are sought 
that focus on (but are not limited to) echinoderms, smaller benthic 
invertebrates, and other benthic species that respond quickly to 
environmental change.

Available systems in addition to Aquarius (as indicated in previous 
announcements) to support undersea research in 2002 include:

      Scuba and nitrox diving throughout the Keys, including shore based 
and laboratory support out of the center's Key Largo facility.

      Mixed gas scuba diving to 300 fsw.

      Remotely Operated Vehicles to 900 fsw.

      Saturation diving from the Aquarius undersea laboratory

Preliminary proposals are strongly encouraged to ensure that proposed 
research is appropriate for current science initiatives and are 
operationally feasible. Preproposals consist of a brief, twopage or less 
description of the proposed investigation, including objectives, methods, 
justification and budget. Proposal guidelines contain a full description of 
center facilities and systems, proposal conditions and format, and required 
forms and are available at the Center's web site (address above).

Proposal deadline: Final Proposals must be received by the center no later 
than August 20, 2001.

For further information, contact:

Thomas Potts
5600 Masonboro Loop Road
1 Marvin Moss Lane
Wilmington, NC 28409
Ph: 9109622442
Fax: 9109622444
pottst at

For questions related to the Florida Program or Aquarius please contact:

Dr. Steven Miller
millers at

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