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Our History

Venture19851990TEEC1995200420102012Classroom Under The Sea

In 1970, the first Earth Day was celebrated, helping to launch the environmental movement. That same year, Marine Resources Development Foundation was established. Even before MRDF came into existence, its founder and President, Ian G. Koblick, pioneered projects that enhanced our understanding of the ocean.

Virgin Islands Program VI and the Sea The Foundation worked closed with the governments of the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico in its formative years, the early 1970s. It helped these islands establish ocean policies, set up marine training programs, operate undersea labs, improve fisheries techniques, test new diving equipment, initiate environmental management strategies, and develop marine archeological and commercial diving techniques. The underwater technology and hardware used in these projects was designed and developed by MRDF, contributing to tools available for undersea exploration. When the Foundation moved to Ft Lauderdale, Florida, in 1976, it became involved with the US Department of Commerce on the creation of a national ocean program.

Rebreather rebreather From underwater habitats to educational programs to special events highlighting our ocean's resources, MRDF's history spans over 40 years of technology and science advancement.

MRDF begins offering service learning programs, through its MarineLab education programs, that include opportunities for high school students to contribute data to ongoing research projects.
The Classroom Under The Sea, a 73-day record-breaking stay on the lagoon floor that included the world's first biology class conducted from an underwater habitat, is completed.
MRDF and the Coral Restoration Foundation join in a study of different genotypes of staghorn corals at a restoration site. Funding for the Coral Reef Classroom program is continued through 2015.
MRDF's MarineLab instructors become involved with the Southeast Water Quality Monitoring Network, which became a gateway to partnering and joining numerous scientific reseach studies. The Coral Reef Classroom program is funded for the first time by proceeds from the Protect Our Reefs Grant program.
MRDF and Video Ray begin a long-term partnership developing long-distance operations of the ROV Model Pro 3 through a regular Internet connection.
Scott Carpenter and Ian Koblick in a rare sea-to-space connection, communicating from Jules' Undersea Lodge to Astronaut Michael Gernhardt aboard the Space Shuttel Endeavor. Also, the Scott Carpenter Man In The Sea programs is started, providing individuals with the opportunity to experience scientific underwater research techniques until 1999.
MRDF opens the Tugaloo Environmental Education Center in SC. It provided programs for students and teachers until 1999.
Two Soviet scientists/aquanauts from the Oceanographic Ministry of the former Soviet Union participated in the NOAA funded saturation diving study.
In 1985, several dozen students participated in programs involving the MarineLab Undersea Laboratory, in its new home at the MRDF facility in Key Largo.
The Golden Venture, a 147 foot research vessel, was used to locate and uncover artifacts fromtm the sunken Spanish galleon, Nuestra Senora de Atocha.
MRDF briefly expanded its research capabilities through partnership with DeepBlue Surveys and their vessel ISIS. Another accretion project by Chris Scala was also emplaced in the lagoon in 2013.
In 2008, in partnership with the Aurora Trust, MRDF sent Chris Olstad and the Video Ray unit to Malta to map the ancient underground cisterns.
Starting in 2000, MRDF embarked on a decade-long facilities improvement plan, which included replacing its fleet of Privateers with more comfortable Twin Vee catamarans, remodeling the labs and replacing the old floating classroom with a new floating conference center.
In 1992, NASA joined with MRDF to simulate the isolation conditions of a long term space mission, Chalupa-30, and in 1993-1994, NASA's OCEAN project conducted plant growth experiments in the habitat.
The MarineLab environmental education programs, expanded in 1985 to include excursions to the surrounding marine habitats, doubled its capacity in 1989. To date, over 100,000 students have attended MarineLab programs.
Funded by NOAA, MRDF ran three major projects from 1988 - 1991. A coral reef management workshop was presented in 1988; over 500 teachers attended workshops presented over the summers of 1988, 1991 and 1992; and an extensive study was done in the MarineLab habitat, using Doppler ultrasound to detect nitrogen bubbles in saturated divers.
The MarineLab Undersea Laboratory is emplaced in the John Pennekamp Coral Reef turning basin.
After its founding in 1970, MRDF operated the LaChalupa habitat in Puerto Rico from 1971-1976.
Ian Koblick tests experimental rebreather, in the early 70s.
MRDF's first project was to help the Government of the US Virgin Islands assess their marine resources.