Florida State University Coastal & Marine Lab has a new research vessel called the Apalachee. The 64 foot catamaran took two years to build at a cost of $1.6 million. Wet and dry laboratories, sediment coring gear and a remotely-operated vehicle called the Sailbuoy are among its features that will be used by scientists and students to conduct research on the ocean’s biological, chemical, geological and physical characteristics that affect global and coastal oceans.
The Apalachee is the only one of its kind in the area that has the capacity to travel in shallow waters and in the deepest parts of the Gulf, which is why demand to use the boat is high. Inquiries about the boats availability have come in from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and a number of universities.
One of its initial tasks will be the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon spill. FSU’s Coastal Marine Lab is a leader of the Deep-C Consortium research group, comprised of ten institutions studying the effects of the oil spill. Dean Grubbs, associate director of research at the lab said, “This will include work on the community structure, biodiversity, ecology and life histories of fishes and large invertebrates found between 75 and 2,000 meters deep in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico as well as assessing the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil Spill on these organisms.”
The Apalachee replaced the R/V Seminole, a 47 foot research vessel used by FSU’s Marine Lab at St. Teresa Beach since 1981 that has been sold.