Aquarius Reef Base in Key Largo, Florida is a unique ocean science and diving facility within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary providing unparalleled means to study coral reefs and the ocean, to test state-of-the-art undersea technology, to train students, astronauts, and Navy divers, and to engage the imagination of people across the globe in ocean science, coral reefs, conservation, and underwater technology.
The Aquarius Reef Base includes the Aquarius undersea laboratory, an ocean-observing platform with access to real-time data via the Internet, and a shore-based field station. The undersea habitat is owned and operated out of Islamorada by Florida International University (FIU).
Aquarius is the world’s only operating undersea research laboratory. It sits in about 60 feet of water within a sandy expanse at the base of Conch Reef, some four miles from shore off Key Largo. It is situated within a specially designated research only zone within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Through saturation diving techniques, Aquarius allows scientists to live and work underwater 24 hours per day for one to two week missions. This enables them to conduct research, surveys, test equipment or undertake in situ experiments that would be difficult, if not cost and time prohibitive, if diving from the surface. Since 1993, the Aquarius undersea lab has supported more than 120 missions, producing over 600 peer-reviewed scientific publications along with numerous popular science articles and educational programs. Our program also supports one of the longest running and detailed coral reef monitoring programs in the world and we work closely with NOAA and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to ensure that the research we undertake meets priorities for science to help make management and conservation decisions.