Aquarius is the world’s only underwater marine laboratory and is operated by Florida International University. Located 63 feet below the surface near deep coral reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Aquarius measures 43 by 20 by 16.5 feet and weighs approximately 81 tons. The habitat is able to withstand pressures up to 120 feet deep and has six bunk beds; hot water; a mini kitchen with microwave and refrigerator; air conditioning; computers; and wireless telemetry that connects to the Aquarius base on shore.
The typical Aquarius mission lasts up to 10 days and through saturation diving, scientists can spend up to nine hours a day in the water — opposed to the typical one hour dive — without having to worry about getting the bends each day. Because of the length of dives and the fact that Aquarius is kept at the same pressure inside as the surrounding water, scientists must decompress within the habitat before surfacing at the completion of each mission.