- Associated Press - Saturday, October 4, 2014

KEY LARGO, Fla. (AP) - Florida International University is partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to help manage the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Under the agreement NOAA announced this week, the agency is committing $1.3 million and FIU will provide scientists to monitor and assess natural resources, mechanics to maintain facilities and mooring buoys used by the public and education and outreach specialists.

FIU researchers have worked for decades in the Keys to monitor sea grass, water quality and coral reefs. The school also operates the sanctuary’s undersea laboratory, Aquarius Reef Base.

The sanctuary is managed by NOAA and the state to protect 2,900 square nautical miles of habitat.

FIU officials say the partnership helps further the university’s goals of engaging with the local community, creating educational opportunities and protecting the environment.

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