KEY LARGO, Florida -- July 21, 2012
South Florida congressional representatives are scuba diving to an undersea research lab that's set to shut down.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration owns the Aquarius Reef Base in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The lab allows scientists studying coral reefs to live and work underwater for days at a time without needing to come up for air.
But the Obama administration has cut the lab's $3 million annual funding. Unless private funding is secured, Aquarius will close. It's the last government-funded underwater research lab.
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen says the budget cutbacks were unavoidable despite congressional efforts to find funding. She's diving Saturday to Aquarius with fellow Republicans Mario Diaz-Balart and David Rivera.
Scientists and filmmakers have been living at Aquarius this week to raise awareness about its closure.