[Coral-List] Aquarius Reef Base Loses Funding

Gino Sabatini ginosabatini at yahoo.com
Sat Sep 15 15:20:27 EDT 2012

-from Sea Technology (Sept 2012) news section:
Aquarius Reef Base Loses Funding. The federal government has eliminated funding for NOAA’s Undersea Research Program,
which includes the Aquarius Reef Base, the world’s only undersea research station. The last federally funded mission to Aquarius,
its 117th, occurred in July. Funding for the undersea research program fell from $7.4 million in fscal year 2011 to $3.98
million in fscal 2012, before being cut altogether in fscal year 2013, while NOAA has asked for a $163 million increase to
more than $2 billion to fund its weather satellite program in 2013, The Washington Post reported. Aquarius, operated by the
University of North Carolina Wilmington, which will no longer host it after December, is adjacent to deep coral reefs in the
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary at a depth of 63 feet. The 81-ton structure houses six bunks, a shower and toilet, and
computers with wireless telemetry. It has been used as a base for saturation-diving research expeditions and for simulation
training for astronauts. Sylvia Earle, who co-led Aquarius’ last mission, said people should not be canceled out completely
from ocean feldwork in favor of technology. “You can’t surprise a machine,” she told NPR, “but you certainly can surprise a
human being, and a human being can react with a body of knowledge. That’s the joy of exploration.. If you knew what you
were going to fnd, you wouldn’t have to go.. But it’s the unexpected you have to prepare for, which is what humans do.” A
continuing resolution is planned to be introduced in the U.S. Congress to possibly fund Aquarius for six months at $100,000
per month. The Aquarius Foundation, an independent group in Key Largo, Florida, is trying to raise money to fund the lab’s $3
million annual budget. A fundraiser on www.indiegogo.com/SaveARBseeks to raise $100,000 by November 16.

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