This award supports establishment of an analytical laboratory at the Caribbean Marine Research Center (CMRC) on Lee Stocking Island. This laboratory will accommodate biochemical procedures and instrumentation for study of the biochemistry, physiology and genetics of marine organisms and for related oceanographic research. Awarded funds will be used to purchase building materials, research equipment and related items typical of analytical laboratories used for biochemical procedures. The new laboratory building will 1) provide workspaces for scientists to utilize biochemical procedures in a separate laboratory from scientists performing experiments with live organisms in the present laboratory, 2) provide a clean and dry environment for advanced analytical instruments that is not subject to the corrosive seawater aerosols found in existing laboratory space, and 3) increase laboratory space for visiting researcher and education groups.
CMRC is one of six National Undersea Research Centers with responsibility for conducting undersea research in the Caribbean region. The research station at Lee Stocking Island was created in 1984 by the Perry Institute for Marine Science to support long-term marine research in tropical and subtropical environments. The station affords a unique opportunity to study a variety of tropical habitats, including shallow and deep coral reefs, subtidal and intertidal mud and sand flats with mangroves, submerged carbonate terraces, subsea caves, blue holes, grassbeds, ooid shoals, stromatolites, and tidal channels. Using the facility and surrounding area, scientists conduct a diverse array of research on recruitment processes, coral reef ecology, life histories, fisheries oceanography, physical oceanography, marine carbonate geology, paleo-oceanography, and long-term monitoring of oceanographic and meteorological conditions. Because of its recent designation as a no-take marine reserve, the still pristine habitats in the surrounding area remain protected for research that takes advantage of these unique scientific and explorative opportunities.