The mission, “Aquarius 2010: If Reefs Could Talk,” is structured to help students and the public better understand their connection to the ocean and their role in helping sustain it. During daily live Web broadcasts from the Aquarius Reef Base, scientists and educators living and working underwater highlight the importance of conserving the nation’s marine resources. Science program themes during this mission include biodiversity, climate change and technology for field science.
NABS chapters and members across the country are helping coordinate interactive broadcasts and viewing events at schools, Boys and Girls clubs, libraries, and science centers. Tennessee State University and Morgan State University staffers are also involved in various aspects of the mission.
“The National Association of Black Scuba Divers considers it both a privilege and a golden opportunity to partner with NOAA on ‘Aquarius 2010’,” said Dr. Jose Jones, NABS science and education committee chairman. “This project will reach young African-Americans and others with information and knowledge that will help with future stewardship of our oceans. Hopefully, some of the listeners and viewers will come away with the desire to pursue careers in the ocean sciences.”
NOAA’s outreach to traditionally underserved communities is part of the agency’s effort to increase knowledge and stewardship of the ocean, and ensure that all students have the opportunity to explore the wonders of science, technology, engineering and mathematics relevant to NOAA’s mission. Most programs during the mission will be broadcast at 12:00 p.m. EST in English and 1:00 p.m. in Spanish, and anyone can watch via the OceansLive.org education Web portal. Program schedule information is available at OceansLive.org.
“People protect what they understand and love, so our goal during this mission is to help the public understand that a healthy ocean matters to all of us,” said Kate Thompson, education coordinator for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “The more people we introduce to the ocean, the more we will empower citizens with the knowledge to support responsible stewardship of our ocean resources.”
The team of scientists and educators will live and work aboard the Aquarius Reef Base, anchored on a sand patch 60 feet below the surface near a coral reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Aquarius is owned by NOAA and operated by the University of North Carolina Wilmington. The facility enables divers to “saturate,” meaning they stay undersea and have extended bottom time for diving and research by going through 17 hours of decompression at the end of a mission instead of going to the surface each day.
“Scientists and educators will live and work in Aquarius studying the health of Conch Reef and how changes in the abundance and diversity of animals and plants affect it,” said Steve Gittings, national science coordinator for the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and one of the lead scientists for the mission. “The findings will help us all better manage human activities so we can protect these struggling marine ecosystems for future generations.”
“Aquarius 2010: If Reefs Could Talk,” is result of collaboration between academic, federal, industry, and private partners, including NOAA, NABS, UNCW, California State University Monterey, Morgan State University, AT&T, and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.
NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources. Visit us at http://www.noaa.gov or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/usnoaa.gov.
On the Web:
Aquarius 2010 Mission Page:
National Association of Black Scuba Divers: