May 5, 2023 - Energy & Environment

NOAA eyes new public-private underwater lab

Illustration of a deep-sea fish with a photo-luminescent antenna in the shape of a question mark

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is set to advance its crewed underwater research through an agreement it signed with the Proteus Ocean Group, using a forthcoming underwater research station off the coast of Curacao.

Why it matters: The partnership would give NOAA access to an underwater version of the International Space Station, complete with laboratories and living quarters, along with media and food production facilities.

Zoom in: The agreement to use PROTEUS opens up possibilities for public-private ocean research. The ocean group would gain access to NOAA’s physical and human assets at sea and on land.

  • It comes as interest is growing in ocean climate solutions.
  • “We will address research topics such as carbon dioxide removal, climate refugia, super corals, acoustics' role in healthy marine environments and microenvironmental data tied to climate events,” Lisa Marrocchino, CEO of Proteus Ocean Group, told Axios in a statement.

Context: NOAA previously operated Aquarius, an underwater lab in the Florida Keys. It is now operated by Florida International University.

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