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After Funding Cuts Threaten Closure, FIU Proposes Taking Over Undersea Lab Off Florida Keys

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File photo of Florida Keys.(photo: ANDY NEWMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of Florida Keys.(photo: ANDY NEWMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

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MIAMI (AP) — Florida International University might be the new caretaker of an undersea research lab in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

In a message to students and staff last week, FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg said the South Florida school had proposed assuming operations at Aquarius Reef Base.

The lab that sits on the ocean floor a few miles off Key Largo allows scientists to live and work underwater for days at a time without needing to come up for air.

It was the last government-funded underwater research lab until the Obama administration cut its funding last year. Without private funding, Aquarius was scheduled to shut down at the end of December.

Rosenberg says FIU’s proposal to take over operations at Aquarius fits the school’s commitment to environmental studies.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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