Scientists from NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program will spend the week underwater in Aquarius, the world's only undersea scientific facility, located in the Florida Keys. They will be broadcasting live all week, and have made lesson plans available on the OceansLive Web site, so teachers can incorporate the mission into school programs. Aquarius is stationed nearly nine miles off shore and 60 feet underwater. The undersea research station is nine feet in diameter, 43 feet long, and can support diving to depths of 120 feet.
The six aquanauts will live in Aquarius for nine days supported by a shore-based crew on watch around the clock. The mission, named Aquarius 2007: If Reefs Could Talk, will conduct research mainly on sponge biology and ecology and long-term monitoring of coral and fish species. It will gather new data, test new equipment, and compare results to data gathered in 1994. The world's reefs are hotbed of life, but they are threatened by global warming, habitat destruction and pollution. The team will broadcast each day at noon, and additional broadcasts are planned with specific lessons for school children. Here's how the Aquarius Web site describes the mission:
To watch each episode, go the OceansLive Web site.
For thousands of years, modern coral reef communities have stood the test of time. What have they learned during that time? What do they know about the oceans that we have yet to learn. What can they tell us about species that come and go, about the quality of the ocean waters, and the effects they are seeing from global climate change? If these reefs could talk, what would they tell us? Join Team Aquarius and NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program on this mission to the world's only undersea laboratory as we ask these questions and more. During a 9-day mission, Team Aquarius will live in the watery world of the Florida Keys inside the National Undersea Research Center's Aquarius.
Team Aquarius will commune with the coral communities of the keys and work to understand what they can tell us about our oceans, our planet, ourselves. Six divers will live in an unfamiliar habitat 50 feet below the ocean, diving up to nine hours a day to conduct experiments and get a close-up look at Florida's coral reefs -- while giving you the chance to travel along! New technologies will allow the team to deliver video and voice communications over the web directly to your homes and classrooms. A few clicks of a mouse will take you from the comfort of your easy chair to the challenging environment of the outer reefs of the Florida Keys, where storms and heavy seas can turn a calm, sunny day into a scary experience in a hurry.
Listen and watch aquanauts live, eat, sleep and work full time underwater. Tune in as they deal with the challenges of living in the sea, and learn what they discover from their research of the reefs. Hear about the chill of long dives, taking sensitive equipment to places it was not designed for, and trying to ward off skin conditions that come with long exposures to humid air. Ask aquanauts questions on your computer. Watch short programs on reef ecology, the technology of an undersea habitat, and living and working underwater. If you teach, watch for educational programs and materials that are sure to keep your class' attention.
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