Feature

The Scoop on SCUBAnauts
11.04.08
Two girls in scuba gear write on a notepad underwater

Two SCUBAnauts perform a fish count in Key Largo in June 2007. Image Credit: SCUBAnauts International

In October 2007, a group of 35 students from Florida took part in "Operation Deep Climb."

This wasn't a super-secret spy mission. It was a trip to Hawaii. The students went deep down into the Pacific Ocean. At the bottom they saw an old submarine. They also climbed to the top of a mountain, one of the tallest in the world.

These students, in middle and high school, are known as SCUBAnauts. Who are SCUBAnauts? They are young people who explore under water. They also help scientists do research.

SCUBAnauts learn how to dive in the ocean. They practice moving in the water only using their feet. This is an important skill. That's because their hands need to be free to carry cameras and other tools. SCUBAnauts also learn about first aid and what to do in an emergency.

A group of scuba divers swim near a large underwater laboratory

A group of SCUBAnauts work outside Aquarius, the world's only underwater research habitat, to perform fish counts and coral surveys. Image Credit: SCUBAnauts International

SCUBAnauts gather information about the water. For example, they measure water temperature and how much salt is in the water.

They also observe coral reefs. Corals are animals that live in the ocean. But they look more like plants than animals. Sometimes corals form "reefs." This is when they grow next to or on top of each other. Studying coral reefs can tell you a lot about the ocean. Some reefs are being damaged by pollution, climate change and too much fishing.

But SCUBAnauts don't spend all their time in the water.

In Hawaii, they saw rare plants and animals as they hiked up a mountain. Waiting for the students at the top of the mountain was astronaut Dominic Gorie. He joined the group on a tour of two huge telescopes. The telescopes sit at the highest point of the mountain. The telescopes are eight stories tall. Scientists use them to study space.

Commander Gorie floats next to a flag aboard the space shuttle

Mission Commander Dominic Gorie unfurls the SCUBAnauts International flag aboard the space shuttle Endeavour. Image Credit: NASA

Five months later, Dominic was on the space shuttle Endeavour. He unrolled a blue banner as Endeavour flew through space. On it were the words "Operation Deep Climb." The students were excited that the name of their project was in space.


Related Resources
SCUBAnauts Web Site   →
Ocean World   →
Ocean Motion   →
Rising Tides   →
Scuba Divers and Satellites


By Prachi Patel-Predd, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies
Adapted for grades K-4 audience by Dan Stillman, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies