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Live Webcast from GOM Ocean Floor

By The Maritime Executive 04-13-2014 07:08:00

From April 12-30, members of the public are invited to join NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer as it explores deep-sea habitats in the Gulf of Mexico. Virtual ocean explorers will have the chance to see canyons, deep-sea coral communities, and shipwrecks dating to the early 1800s via live video transmitted from the deep seafloor.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the public to join us as we explore the Earth’s ocean to obtain and share scientific information that describes largely unknown ocean areas. This information can then be used by ocean resource managers, coastal communities, offshore industries and others to inform decisions about how best to manage, use and protect the ocean and its resources,” said John McDonough, the acting director of NOAA’s Office of Exploration and Research.

“America's Gulf is our backyard, yet there is a great deal we still need to learn about its sea floor, sea life and maritime heritage," he added.

Anyone with Internet access can follow the expedition on NOAA’s website, which will chronicle the expedition through live and archived videos, background science essays, still images, logs from the science team, curricula and educational modules. 

Last year’s Okeanos expedition to the North Atlantic Ocean drew more than 900,000 visits to the web pages as the public watched dynamic underwater sea creatures, visited rarely seen underwater landscapes and heard scientists describe the underwater world. 

Technicians aboard the ship will launch Remotely-Operated Vehicles (ROVs), allowing scientists on shore to explore features such as salt domes, gas seeps, and canyons, while also investigating shipwrecks and marine life, including deep-sea coral habitats. NOAA’s ROV Deep Discoverer, accompanied by the ROV camera-sled Seirios, are equipped with high-definition video cameras and advanced lighting systems to obtain and send live video. The ROVs may operate as deep as 3,000 meters.

The live video timeframe will include Earth Day, April 22, when the team will explore a deep-sea canyon, characterizing the features, habitats and species they encounter. On April 15, 16 and 24, expedition scientists expect to investigate shipwrecks to determine if they may be significant national maritime heritage sites. Such sites require not only study, but protection in partnership with industry and other federal partners.

To view video on this year’s expedition, go here

Picture credits:
Ship and map: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program
Underwater: Ocean Exploration Trust/Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, Texas State University