Viewing Ocean Life Up-Close and Personal

This summer a team from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) set sail to explore the seas.  Their mission was to investigate the diversity and distribution of deep-sea habitats and marine life along the Northeast U.S. Canyons and Mytilus Seamount off the coast of New England.  Exploration isn’t really anything new for NOAA but the way they did it this year was a first.

Based off the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, with a support team on shore, researchers launched a brand new 6,000-m remotely operated vehicle (ROV) called the Deep Discoverer. Outfitted with a Seirios camera sled and lighting platforms the ROV transmitted live video from the ocean floor. These largely unknown areas of the ocean were the best viewing of the summer.

The ROV allowed researchers a view like they never had before.  During the first leg of the cruise, the ROV explored the seafloor off Nantucket and confirmed gas seeps in the seafloor and mussels and other animals that live off chemical energy that bubbles up from the bottom.  The summer cruise closed with a sighting of a large Greenland Shark in its native habitat.

All the data from the ROV was transmitted via satellite to researchers and viewers all over the world. If you were lucky enough to catch “Deep Sea TV,” you would have been entertained by the banter of the scientists as well as enthralled by the beauty of the sea. The success of this summer’s field season is a guarantee that the Deep Discoverer will continue to explore the depths of the oceans for many years to come.

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