Picture this: an undersea laboratory buried under 60 feet of water and hidden amid a bed of beautiful coral. You might be thinking about a mad scientist conducting experiments and other crazy shenanigans, but the lab is very real. Aquarius is the world’s only operational undersea laboratory, and it’s facing having to shut down due to a lack of funding.
The Aquarius laboratory has been in operation for over 50 years, and during this time it has helped scientists gain a fundamental understanding of undersea life and how each element has an impact on the world above. Some notable missions in recent history have even helped NASA prepare for future missions where astronauts are going to be stuck in tight quarters while navigating sensitive equipment.
It’s long been said that the oceans are the true final frontier for us here on Earth. As we gain a much greater understanding of the Universe and how it works, the majority of our world remains unexplored and uncharted. We simply don’t have the technology today to travel underwater as efficiently as we can above, so this space remains a playing ground for scientists as they reach ever deeper in a quest to understand how the Earth works. Even today, dives are uncovering hundreds (if not thousands) of new species we didn’t even know existed beforehand. Imagine what we might learn if we continued to support these efforts.
Sadly, the funding for this NOAA-owned facility has been cut. The University of North Carolina, Wilmington has been operating the facility for years, though with no funding, the scientists working there may be seeking more new jobs topside. Scientists typically spend 10 days at the undersea base studying the surrounding coral and sea life as well as taking part in research concerning human interaction with the environment.
There’s hope that the facility will remain open if funding is provided, but for now the laboratory’s fate remains in the hands of the public. For now, you can find out how you can help the facility keep its portholes open by visiting the official site of the Aquarius Foundation and spreading the word.