Brian Lam has reported on Gizmodo that NASA plans to shut down its last remaining undersea habitats. These are the Aquarius Reef Base, its sister program, the Hawaii Undersea Research Lab (HURL), and its two Pisces subs, all of which will lose their budgets by September 2012. This is due to budgetary constraints, as according to director of the Hawaii Undersea Research Lab, John Wiltshire:
“NOAA spent too much money on some extra weather satellites that weren’t budgeted.”
The habitats provide a wealth of information including constant measurements of the health of the coral, sponges, fish activity and ocean chemistry, in one place, for the last 20 years. In addition, the base is outfitted with a megabit internet connection designed by Motorola that spans the nearly 4 mile distance across the water to HQ, allowing scientists and reporters to broadcast live from under the sea. A fund-raising body called The Aquarius Foundation, has been established to try and keep the habitat open without governmental support.