Aquarius is a fully submerged laboratory with 400 square feet of living and research quarters; It is located 62 feet (20 meters) below sea level at the base of a coral reef within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Aquarius is the only underwater research facility in operation and has produced valuable data that only such an unique facility could provide.
However, you can imagine the cost of operations for a laboratory on the sea floor is not cheap. Its base operational cost is $1.5 USD million per year, increasing up to $3 million depending on research project(s). Since taking over operations in 1991, The University of North Carolina Wilmington has struggled to secure sufficient funding. Due to federal budget cuts in 2013 and consequently funding by NOAA, UNCW was unable to renew operations, meaning the closure of Aquarius.
In the eleventh hour (past the stroke of midnight is a better analogy), Florida International University submitted a proposal to resume operations at Aquarius. FIU has already received verbal approval, and it looks good that Aquarius will continue operations under new management.
[via Star News]