Florida International University (FIU) has a strong research focus on coastal marine sciences. The Aquarius Reef Base, part of the Medina Aquarius program located off of the Florida Keys, is the world’s only undersea research lab. It is currently being equipped as an ocean acidification observatory and research platform. The Aquarius allows for unprecedented monitoring of the effects of climate change on seagrass and coral reef ecosystems both of which are critical to the future of a planet with ever-rising temperatures. Researchers are also examining the global role of “Blue Carbon” stored in coastal ocean environments in climate change mitigation strategies.
FIU faculty are sought out by the Department of State and hold leadership positions on United Nations committees to incorporate blue carbon policy into international treaties. In addition, marine research at FIU addresses how overfishing, nutrient pollution, and climate change impact the abundance and diversity of corals and fish species. Recent findings have shown that protecting reefs from fishing and reducing pollution input to reefs lowers the rates of both coral bleaching and disease — two major threats to coral ecosystems.