Tuesday, December 07, 2010

"My laboratory is under water"

OK, no one actually said that headline, but I'll bet it's a good conversation starter. The Wall Street Journal has a good article, with photos and video of the unique Aquarius facility, 18m (60 ft) under the sea in the Florida Keys. There were once several such labs around the world, but Aquarius is the only one left. The lab lets scientists carry out long-term, continuously observable studies and experiments. Operations director Saul Rosser describes Aquarius by saying, "You're in this reverse aquarium—an air bubble with windows." The lab can handle six people and is in its 18th year of operation.
COMMENT: It seems to me that, with the urgency of marine science in this era of ecological concern and climate change, there should be more than one such lab - a lot more. I understand the competition for scientific resources, but there should be several such labs in different locations at different depths. Robotic vehicles and stations are increasingly capable, but nothing yet replaces the human scientist on the spot for a thorough understanding of an ecosystem.

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