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Learn more about the RESEARCH PROGRAMS...


National Undersea Research Centers

A key strength of NURP is its partnership with the nation's science community, carried out primarily through the six regional National Undersea Research Centers (NURCs). Each center is funded by a grant from NOAA. Projects are chosen based upon peer review. This open, competitive process ensures that a variety of high quality science projects are directed towards the most pressing problems. This extramural program (outside the agency) gives NOAA access to perhaps the most powerful work force in the world, American industry and academia. Contact the center in the region of interest for more information.



thumbnail map of NOAA Undersea Research Center regions   NURP Centers location map and contact information

Caribbean image

National Undersea Research Center for the Caribbean

The National Undersea Research Center for the Caribbean region is located at the Caribbean Marine Research Center (CMRC), Tequesta, FL. The Center provides research support facilities at Lee Stocking Island, Bahamas, chosen for its pristine environments and easy access to diverse coastal ecosystems. Lee Stocking Island offers laboratories, housing, airstrip, docks, boats, and diving support facilities, including a decompression chamber and submersibles. Fisheries research focuses on the most valuable species of Florida and the Caribbean, including the queen conch, spiny lobster, and Nassau grouper. To understand climate change and its effects, CMRC maintains a comprehensive monitoring and research program examining seawater temperatures, ultraviolet light, sea level, and weather patterns, including a network of temperature recording-stations in several Caribbean countries.


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National Undersea Research Center for Hawaii and the Western Pacific

The National Undersea Research Center for Hawaii and the Western Pacific is located at the University of Hawaii. The undersea research program is conducted by the University's Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL). Research centers around the Hawaiian Islands but includes work elsewhere in the Pacific. Facilities include Pisces V, a 2000-meter capable, 3-person, 1-atmosphere submersible; RCV-150, a 1000-meter remotely operated vehicle (ROV) being upgraded to 2000 meters; and R/V Ka' imikai-O-Kanaloa, a 220-foot dedicated support vessel with facilities for 19 scientists. Projects to date include Ocean Bottom Observatory monitoring of Loihi volcanic activity; the geology and biology of Loihi hydrothermal systems and of emerging and subsiding islands; deepwater ecology at Enewetak Atoll; pharmaceutical potential of marine organisms; baseline studies of Johnston Atoll waste disposal sites; effects of deep ocean disposal of sewage and dredge spoils; reproduction, development, and re-colonization studies; and Hawaiian fishery investigations.


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National Undersea Research Center for the Middle Atlantic Bight

The National Undersea Research Center for the Middle Atlantic Bight is located at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences (IMCS) at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey. The center's major goal is to improve knowledge of the processes governing change and stability in the region at spatial and temporal scales not obtainable with conventional oceanographic techniques. Since its creation in 1992, the Center has focused on establishing Long-term Ecosystem Observatories (LEO's) that enable multi-investigator teams from diverse disciplines to conduct in situ observations and manipulations to meet this goal. Research at LEO-2500, conducted with DSV Alvin, has shown that the initial distribution of sludge-derived particles in sediments corresponds with changes in the deep-sea animal communities and that a sludge-derived material has entered the deep-sea food web. Studies at LEO-750 have used a moored, automated zooplankton pump and other instruments to measure the diversity, biomass, trophic structure, and metabolism of the benthic boundary layer and sediment communities at a continental slope site. At LEO-15, research supported by scuba and in situ instrumentation focuses on interdisciplinary studies of shelf ecosystem processes such as recruitment of fish and benthic invertebrates and effects of waves and currents on sediment transport, bedform characteristics and benthic composition, and population dynamics.


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National Undersea Research Center for the North Atlantic and Great Lakes

The National Undersea Research Center for the North Atlantic and Great Lakes is located at the University of Connecticut, Avery Point. The Center supports and conducts research in the waters off the northeast coast of the United States (i.e., Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank and the Southern New England Bight including Long Island Sound) and the Laurentian Great Lakes. The Center provides scientists with an array of advanced in situ technologies including occupied submersibles, remotely operated vehicles (ROV's), and Nitrox scuba. The center specializes in development of sampling technologies that increase the utility of submersible vehicles, in particular, low-cost ROV systems. Research supported by the Center has focused on a wide range of topics that reflect our need to understand ecosystem function and responses to human induced stress. Major research programs address the impact of pollution on the environment, the role of habitat fisheries production and response to fishing activities and more basic studies of nutrient cycling, predator-prey interactions, sediment transport, and community dynamics.


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National Undersea Research Center for the Southeastern United States and Gulf of Mexico

The National Undersea Research Center for the Southeastern United States and Gulf of Mexico is located at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. The Center conducts undersea research in the South Atlantic Bight (NC to FL), Florida Keys, and Gulf of Mexico. The Southeast region is generally characterized by wide continental shelf and 60% of the Nation's wetlands and estuarine drainage area. The operations program includes both inhouse and leased capabilities. Undersea systems operated by the Center include mixed gas scuba, remotely operated vehicles, the Aquarius undersea laboratory, and support boats (6 to 15 m length) for nearshore work. Research submersibles and larger support ships are leased. Center facilities are located in Wilmington and Key Largo, FL, near the site of the Aquarius laboratory. Center research goals evolve to meet changing national and regional needs. Science initiatives addressed by the Center include research related to hydrocarbon exploration and development; management of fisheries resources; conservation of the Florida Keys' coral reefs; anthropogenic and natural processes that impact coastal resources (e.g., beach erosion) and introduction of excess nutrients to nearshore habitats; detection of present global climate conditions through long-term monitoring and assessment of past changes through geological and paleoceanographic studies.


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National Undersea Research Center for the West Coast and Polar Regions

The National Undersea Research Center for the West Coast and Polar Regions is located at the University of Alaska- Fairbank's (UAF) School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. The region served by the Center includes a vast area along the western margin of North America (70% of the U.S. continental shelf area) and supports a major portion of the annual U.S. fisheries take and production of mineral resources. The Center leases and makes available to marine scientists an array of advanced undersea technology systems, including low-cost and advanced remotely operated vehicles, geophysical instruments such as side-scan sonars and high-resolution seismic reflection systems, and shallow and deep-diving submersibles. Research projects range from Barrow, Alaska, in the Arctic Ocean to the Santa Barbara Basin off Southern California. Many fisheries-related studies have been supported by the Center, as well as studies on a broad range of topics including active faulting, methane vents, sediment geochemistry, material flux, lake ecology, ice dynamics, and benthic biology.