Deep Reef, High Impact: Accomplishments of Mission Aquarius

“The most incredible thing about the Aquarius underwater laboratory is that no one has ever heard of it.” – Marc Ostrick, Dir. of Digital Production, One World One Ocean

He’s right. When we contacted members of the press about this story, including journalists in Florida, where Aquarius Reef Base is located, they didn’t know it existed.

Not anymore. When we heard one of the most incredible ocean exploration assets in the world was about to be decommissioned, we saw to it that people would know about Aquarius.

Why? The lab allows scientists to live underwater for up to two weeks at a time, pushing the boundary of what we know about the ocean. It is the last vestige of a rich 50-year tradition of ocean explorers living underwater, started by Jacques Yves Cousteau with Conshelf I, in 1962. Aquarius has been cut from next year’s federal budget and may be closed as soon as December.

Dive into the full Aquarius experience here.

We sent our team of IMAX cinematographers and digital media specialists to cover what could be the final mission. We made videos, wrote blog posts, tweeted, reached out to journalists and people like you to let the world know about this incredible place. (Most of my friends, family, and even the fishmonger at my local market, now know about the unique history of Aquarius now, thanks to my incessant talking about it.)

The response was amazing. Here's an example.

Over three days of live Ustream events we had a quarter of a million viewers. Three hundred unique news pieces were generated, and featured by National Geographic, The Associated Press, The Washington Post, NPR, CBS, The Huffington Post, Yahoo!, Christian Science Monitor, Treehugger, Gizmodo, Fast Company, Outside Magazine, and many more. Our Mission Aquarius videos got 170,000 unique views in a week, and were shared on top tier news outlets like Daily Show, ABC News and Fox News. The coverage reached hundreds of millions of people in places like France, Australia and Brazil. It sparked a global conversation on social media platforms, including influencers like Sir Richard Branson, Fabien Cousteau, Juliet Eilperin and Dr. Wallace J Nichols.


At the end of it all, congressional representatives from Florida came out to visit the research facility, and met with the head of NOAA, who oversees the base, in an effort to explore funding options. While there is no solution in place yet, a foundation has been set up to take donations, and the importance of humans conducting ocean exploration has been propelled to the national stage.

The mission was exciting and immensely gratifying for the team at One World One Ocean, and we thank all the people who worked on it behind the scenes, the ocean experts and celebrities who participated, and everyone who followed along with the adventure online. With missions like this, and participants like you, the future of the ocean is looking brighter.

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