Aquarius Reef Base is the only undersea research station in the world. It’s located 63 feet (19 m) under the surface of the ocean in a coral reef that’s 8 miles (13 km) off the coast of southern Florida. Since 1992, scientists have gone there to study ocean plants and animals.
The Aquarius is made of steel. It’s 43 feet (13 meters) long and 20 feet (6 m) wide. It has six bunk beds, a shower, a toilet, and a kitchen area with microwave, refrigerator, and trash compactor. It also has a small laboratory with computers and other equipment. Scientists conduct experiments there.
World-famous marine biologist Sylvia Earle has led many expeditions to this “underwater space station.” These trips have helped scientists make important discoveries about the creatures that live in coastal ecosystems. They have also given scientists valuable information about the impact of pollution and climate change are having on the ocean’s fragile coral reefs.
About 90% of all ocean creatures live in the coastal waters above the continental shelves that surround each of Earth’s continents. Farther away from the coasts, the shelves drop off into much deeper waters of the open ocean. Those deep areas support fewer forms of life.