The Keys Marine Laboratory (KML) proximity to the only shallow water coral reef system in the continental United States, as well as Florida Bay, the Everglades National Park, the Florida Current (Gulf Stream), and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary makes KML one of only a few locations which can serve nearly any marine researcher or educator working on tropical organisms and ecosystems without having to leave the continental United States. Consequently, over the past 20 years, KML has become a vital component of research and education programs which rely on the easy access to these habitats and organisms that KML provides. However, due to the high demand for our services, particularly during the summer months, we can only support as many researchers and educators as our facilities allow.
Field work is simultaneously one of the most important and most difficult aspects of Marine Science. Working underwater creates challenges that are simply not applicable in terrestrial systems. This is part of the reason that, before the development of the first practical and affordable SCUBA gear in the 1940’s, very little research was done below the surface. While we have come a long way since then, marine science is still one of the most logistically difficult of scientific disciplines. Add to that the costs of working in a place like the Florida Keys and you have a very large hurdle that scientists must overcome to conduct research in these crucially important systems. It is not only researchers that have to overcome the difficulties of working in the Keys. Educators have just as many challenges, if not more, in teaching the next generation of scientists about marine systems. Few things are as important for young marine scientists as hands-on experiences in the marine environment. However, few things are more difficult for educators than taking groups of students into the field. At KML we facilitate both research and education efforts by providing critical and affordable logistical support.