A Tour of Aquarius Reef Base




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Well, I’m all geared up and ready to go. This is so cool, you have got to see this! As soon as I hit the ocean, I can see Aquarius directly beneath me in the clear water.

It’s almost like a submarine that doesn’t move. But unlike a submarine, the pressure inside Aquarius is the same as the pressure outside.

So even though there is an open hatch at the bottom of the habitat, water doesn’t go in. This allows people to go in and out of Aquarius as much as they like. Which is totally awesome!

So this is it! The Aquarius, amazing! I can come right in through an open hole in the floor, and yet, the water stays out, that’s cool.

Now, time for a shower. You have to shower before you go inside the Aquarius because they don’t want salt water in everything. I mean, we might be underwater, but this is civilized.

So the Aquarius, you can think of it like a big school bus with no seats in it. It’s sort of like a long tube and everything is spread throughout that tube.

At this end, behind this power door, is the front porch, and that’s where I came inside. We like to keep that closed because it’s quite humid in there and its air conditioned in here.

Now the next feature you’ll find right inside the front door here is the bathroom.

Here’s your bathroom, you have got your privacy curtain…it’s a pretty small bathroom but it gets the job done.

And of course, right across over here, a sink, and some laboratory equipment, just in case you need to do some biological studies.

And then we come down a little further and we have a computer. Well… you have got to be able to get on the internet even when you are underwater, I mean come on!

So here in the middle of the Aquarius we have the kitchen, or what you would call on a boat, the galley. So if you come in here we’ve got the sink, and have a sort of a place to eat, a kitchen table if you will.

And, a picture window! But unlike your picture window at home, this picture window looks out on a coral reef with fish swimming by. Where’s the fish? Come here fishies!

And the last part, down here at the far end (this would be sort of like the back of the school bus) you have six bunks all stacked up together.

You can see there is not a lot of space in here. In fact, if you’re sleeping, you only have about a foot and a half from your head to the next bunk up. It’s pretty tight, but it’s cozy and its dry. And you can’t beat the view out the window at the foot of the bed!

So now you might be wondering…what do you eat down here? Well, they eat sort of like astronauts. It’s freeze-dried foods. If you are a camper you might have used some of this stuff. You rip the package open, you put water in it and you can eat it right out of the package. They don’t really have a lot of facilities for cooking. They have a microwave and they have hot water and that’s about it. There is no stove and there’s no oven. Some of the food that gets brought down in very tight containers gets compressed with the pressure down here.

SO this is something that was fully inflated at the surface but once it gets brought down here to 50 feet, the pressure in here squishes it down, and that’s what it ends up looking like.

You can feel the pressure all around you even if you don’t really feel like you are under pressure. The air that we are breathing is a little bit more dense because it’s compressed and several things happen. My voice sounds a little funny to me, but on top of that… it’s really hard to whistle.

There we go!

Even though the scientists are out scuba diving, there are always two technicians in Aquarius maintaining the life support, fixing little things that break, monitoring the various systems and keeping track of the divers. While technician Mark Hulsbeck is giving me an introduction to the life support systems, we are being watched by someone on shore.

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