Exploration in the Marianas Region

On Wednesday 20th April, I will be setting sail aboard the NOAA ship, the Okeanos Explorer, for three weeks (20th April to 11th May). The goal of our expedition is to explore the area around the Marianas Trench using an ROV. What is exciting and special about the Okeanos Explorer is that it only does exploration and science communication (not research-driven science) – it’s ROV basically just drives around looking for cool stuff! The best bit is that all dives are streamed in HD imagery LIVE on the internet so anyone can watch! Most of the deep sea has never been visualized and so initiatives like the Okeanos are important as they let us to get a glimpse of what kind of habitats are down there and what lives at them, and then this allows us to take the appropriate measures to manage and protect them. All of the 20 dive locations have never been visited before and so we aren’t quite sure what we are going to discover, but we can be sure that there will be exciting deep-sea habitats from undersea volcanoes to hydrothermal vents, coral and sponge gardens and of course a few dives 6km down in the trench! There might even be a few new species in the bag like Casper the friendly octopus discovered during the previous Okeanos Explorer expedition off Hawaii last month.

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Our dive locations! Copyright NOAA Office for Ocean Exploration and Research

My role is Biology Lead on this expedition and as a result, I will be commentating for all of the dives. Basically you can listen to me (and the geology lead, Deborah Glickson) for 8 hours a day for 20 days if you so desire 🙂 The dives will take place during daylight hours in Guam (GMT+10) which is 9 hours ahead of UK and 13 hours ahead of Trinidad. Our first dive will be on the 21st April (which is actually the 20th for most of you) and then they should be every day for the next 20 days.

It’s going to be a really exciting expedition that will offer the public a chance to see a variety of deep-sea habitats, so you should tune if ever you have a spare moment. The HD imagery really is absolutely spectacular (like this and this).

You can watch live here:
http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/okeanos/media/exstream/exstream.html

Read about the background of the expedition here (as well as read daily updates, catch up on missed highlights etc.):
http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/okeanos/explorations/ex1605/welcome.html

And you can also follow my updates on Twitter: @DivaAmon
Or follow the hashtag on Twitter: #Okeanos

Please feel free to share this with others. The more people that get to see how amazing the deep sea is, the greater a chance we have at protecting it!

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