This story is just too cool not to link. Penn State faculty are collaborators on this project and they will be spending 8 days underwater at aquarius, the world’s only underwater research station. This is SO cool! When I was a kid I used to love Marine Boy. I was a swimmer (up until college when I realized that I was getting a little tired of seeing the same *&($ black line on the bottom of every pool and played water polo instead) and MB was the coolest. Imagine being able to stay underwater for hours just by chewing oxygum! I used to get in trouble for chewing gum in the pool all the time…
8-day undersea mission begins experiment to improve coral reef
Friday, June 13, 2008
Scientists have begun an eight-day mission, in which they are living and working at 60 feet below the sea surface, to determine why some species of coral colonies survive transplanting after a disturbance, such as a storm, while other colonies die. Coral reefs worldwide are suffering from the combined effects of hurricanes, global warming and increased boat traffic and pollution. As a result, their restoration has become a priority among those who are concerned. Using as a home base the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Aquarius — an underwater facility for science and diving located in Key Largo, Fla. — a team of “aquanauts” is working to protect coral reefs from this barrage of threats by investigating ways to improve their restoration.
“It’s like living on the space station, except that it’s underwater,” said Iliana Baums, an assistant professor of biology at Penn State and a collaborator on the project. “The job is dangerous because, once the aquanauts descend, their tissues become saturated with nitrogen. If they were to return to the surface quickly, they would get the bends, an often deadly illness in which tiny bubbles form inside the body. As a result, the divers at the end of their mission must spend an entire day depressurizing by making their way to the surface slowly
And they have live webcams down there! Very cool: “A live Webcam for viewing the science team while they are underwater in the Aquarius facility is on the Web at http://www.uncw.edu/aquarius/thumb_cam.htm”
Oh, and It’s Marine Boy!