All posts by Erin Bilbo

Erin is a marine biologist at the Inner Space Center.

Okeanos Explorer cruise summary – Exploring the Marianas

The EX1605L1 leg of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer‘s trip to the Marianas was captivating, to say the least! From new species of jellyfish, to hydrothermal vent chimneys, this exploration leg was jam-packed with discoveries.

Okeanos started this cruise leg near Guam, then moved towards the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument (MTMNM) and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The Marianas Trench is known as the deepest part of the ocean, at almost 11,000 meters deep! The intention behind this cruise leg was to gather baseline knowledge of the biodiversity and geology of the area. The NOAA team onboard used their remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Deep Discoverer, “D2” to explore the area.

As always, the Inner Space Center at URI published those streams in real-time to YouTube and scientists worldwide. Some dives attracted as many as 2,500 simultaneous viewers.

The biology encountered in the Marianas was phenomenal! The cruise leg started off with a six-gill shark sighting at Santa Rosa Reef.

We discovered a wide variety of creatures inhabiting the area:

One of the most enthralling discoveries was a new species of jellyfish! This hydromedusa was found at Enigma Seamount at roughly 3,700 meters:

The Okeanos Explorer also made some great geological discoveries. They explored a newly-discovered hydrothermal vent site boasting one of the highest temperatures recorded in the Marianas region: 339 degrees Celsius. (Most of the deep sea is a chilly 2 degrees Celsius.) The 30-meter chimney base was releasing black “smoke” made up of iron and anhydrite precipitate.

Actively venting hydrothermal vent chimney shrouded in black smoke, and covered with vent animals, including shrimp, crabs, snails, and scaleworms. Image courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas.

There were also young lava flows that had created glassy pillow mounds. The area was so new that no animals had yet colonized the area.

That’s a wrap for Leg 1! Come back for more deepwater exploration on June 17th!

For more details about individual dives visit the NOAA Okeanos Explorer website.

Videos and images courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas.

Inner Space Center helps locate black box from El Faro shipwreck

The Inner Space Center (ISC) has been working in conjunction with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to investigate the sinking of the El Faro cargo ship. The 790-foot cargo ship sank off the Bahamas  during Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015. Continue reading Inner Space Center helps locate black box from El Faro shipwreck

2015 – Year in Review

The Inner Space Center (ISC) has completed another successful year of ocean exploration! We’re excited to say that we’ve had a few milestones this year. We supported three research vessels, completed our first-ever live TV broadcasts from sea, and worked with the University of Rhode Island’s R/V Endeavor using telepresence. Continue reading 2015 – Year in Review

Rhode Island Shipwrecks Recap

From September 2nd, to September 6th, several members of our URI GSO Inner Space Center team sailed aboard the R/V Endeavor. We were joined by scientists (from the URI Graduate School of Oceanography), high school teachers, and members of the United States Coast Guard Academy. Everyone onboard came out to sea for our Rhode Island Shipwrecks project.

Continue reading Rhode Island Shipwrecks Recap

Wreck-ollections: U-Boat 166

Welcome to the second installment of the Inner Space Center’s ‘Wreck-ollections’, wherein we take a closer look at some of the fascinating shipwrecks we’ve visited or re-discovered.  This season has found us diving on a series of historical wrecks from WWII, and so we will go back to the beginning of the summer, to the wreck of U-boat 166. Continue reading Wreck-ollections: U-Boat 166