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Hurricane Irma roared through the Florida Keys last September causing substantial damage on land and at sea. Five miles off the coast of Tavernier, the Aquarius undersea laboratory and the associated Life Support Buoy felt the storm’s impact.

Aquarius’ external superstructure was damaged and mission-related test items deployed on the reef were lost, but the interior of the laboratory remained watertight. The Life Support Buoy, however, was torn from its moorings and relocated 14 miles south to the Lignum Vitae Channel. The Buoy was recovered days after the storm and towed to the Port of Miami where it has been undergoing repairs.

After months of restoration, Aquarius is approaching operational readiness.

Currently, the Life Support Buoy mooring system is being reinstalled and once completed the Buoy will be towed from Miami and redeployed over Aquarius. After the team finishes checking the life support system and it is inspected by an independent third-party, Aquarius will officially be ready for its next team of aquanauts. Upcoming mission details will be posted on the Medina Aquarius Program website.

Learn more about the Aquarius Life Support Bouy.

Thomas Potts, Aileen Soto, and Roger Garcia contributed to this story.