Last lab standing: 30 years of undersea research

People have lived and worked in undersea habitats since the early 1960s. While over 60 habitats existed throughout time, today there is only one place in the world where people can live and work beneath the sea – FIU’s Aquarius Reef Base.

Aboard Aquarius, aquanauts can live for weeks at a time conducting experiments, testing the psychological effects of isolation and task loading and teaching classes live from a coral reef.

Despite the advantages, Aquarius remains the last saturation diving facility specifically dedicated to scientific research and education. With 153 missions conducted from the habitat so far, Aquarius represents an extensive and rich history of man’s quest to explore underwater.

In the first comprehensive report of this illustrious history, published in issue 100 and issue 101 of the Journal of Diving History, Associate Director of Research Administration Thomas Potts chronicles the evolution of the Aquarius habitat.

The account begins with the habitat’s conceptual design in 1980. Potts describes Aquarius’ first deployment in 1987 in Salt River Canyon, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, on to its relocation to the Florida Keys beginning in 1993.

It explains Aquarius’ transition from a federally owned asset to FIU in 2014 while looking to the future of the Medina Aquarius Program and the potential for the next generation of ocean exploration.

To learn more about Aquarius Reef Base, please visit