Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI) will be switching hands. HBOI was found by Seward Johnson, heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, in the mid 1970’s. The campus is located a couple hours north of Ft. Lauderdale. A colleague of mine from Alabama referred to HBOI as the Woods Hole of the south. You probably don’t know HBOI but you will definitely recognize their submersibles (above), the Sealink I & II. Yes there is two of them. Unfortunately, I can’t tell them apart any better than Mary Kate and Ashley. The subs are unique in that they have 360 degree view through the clear acrylic bubble. Contrast this to the portholes on most subs like the Alvin. Of course, this also limits its dive depth. I have found memories of the Sealink as my first.
HBOI has seen some tough times, a new generation of benefactors, a more competitive research environment , and two hurricanes, forcing staff cuts including some really great scientists as well as consideration of selling off part of the equipment like the Sealink and land. Florida Atlantic University will step and take control bringing $44.7 million initially and $8.5 million per year afterwards to repair both the aging fleet and buildings. “The acquisition helps turn FAU, the Boca Raton-based public school that serves Broward County, into a more serious research university, adding $16 million a year in grant money.”