From August 18, 2017, to September 3, 2017, the E/V Nautilus will be exploring the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (NMS), located along the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state. The sanctuary encompasses 3,189 square miles (8,260 km2), an area equivalent to the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined. It extends 25 to 50 miles (40 to 80 km) from the shore, including most of the continental shelf, as well as three important submarine canyons: the Nitinat Canyon, the Quinault Canyon and the Juan de Fuca Canyon. The main objectives of this expedition are to explore and characterize seafloor resources and features associated with these submarine canyons. Quinault and Quileute Canyons have never been explored by remotely operated vehicle (ROV) or autonomous underwater vehicle ( AUV).
Another important expedition objective is to collect information about the ocean’s chemical and physical properties and associated biological communities. The Olympic Coast marks the northern reach of the California Current, which seasonally upwells deep, nutrient-rich waters nearshore. This process supports the sanctuary’s highly productive ecosystem. Twenty-nine species of marine mammals reside in or migrate through sanctuary waters; the area provides critical nesting habitat for numerous seabird species; and the region is also among the most productive fish-growing habitats in the world. However, due toocean acidification (a continued decrease in the global ocean’s pH, caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere), the California Current is now also delivering low-pH, and often low-oxygen (hypoxic), waters to the region, which can negatively impact many marine species. The Olympic Coast NMS is thus considered a “sentinel site” for ocean acidification. Monitoring and research take place to enhance the understanding of natural and historical resources in the area and how they are changing, as well as provide and early warning capability to detect changes to the ecosystem itself.
In addition to its ecological richness, the Olympic Coast NMS sanctuary is also culturally and historically rich. Over 200 shipwrecks are documented in sanctuary waters! The Makah, Quileute, and Hoh Tribes, as well as Quinault Nation, all have strong, historical ties to the region. NOAA sanctuary staff work cooperatively with the tribes to strengthen sanctuary resources and respect the longstanding relationship of coastal Native Americans with the marine environment.
We are pleased to announce the launch of our Northwest Passage Project’s website, www.northwestpassageproject.org. The Northwest Passage Project (NPP), an innovative science and education initiative that includes an expedition into the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. This National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project will engage intergenerational cohorts of high school, undergraduate, and graduate students in hands-on research exploring the changing Arctic and collecting data.
The NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer has recently started another expedition exploring the waters off of Apia, Samoa, in the western Pacific Ocean. Live-streamed through ISC’s Mission Control, NOAA’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) will take place throughout the cruise, March 7- March 29. Baseline data will be collected on deep-water ecosystems in and around U.S. marine protected areas in the central and western Pacific. Be sure to follow along and tune into what should be some amazing exploration opportunities.
Registration is now open for the ISC’s Summer 2017 session of Ocean Science Exploration Camp! This year’s camp will take place from June 26th through 30th, 2017, and will focus on geological oceanography. During this week- long day camp, campers will conduct field investigations and apply scientific techniques to sample sediments, survey beaches, and investigate how coastal RI habitats differ and may be changing. Register for camp on the ISC Camps page.
Northwest Passage Project
The Inner Space Center (ISC) Associate Director Gail Scowcroft is the Principal Investigator and Project Director for the groundbreaking Northwest Passage Project (NPP), which will explore the dramatically changing Arctic by taking a team of natural and social scientists, students, and a professional film crew into the Canadian Arctic’s Northwest Passage during August 2017. The expedition team, including ISC staff members, will make the five-week journey aboard the Newport-based SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, the first full-rigged sailing ship to sail into the Passage in over a century.
Through exploration at sea and on land, the team will conduct groundbreaking ocean science research in a region that is now experiencing unprecedented environmental change, while actively engaging 35 graduate, undergraduate, and high school students in hands-on research activities. The project’s activities and findings will be shared with diverse audiences through real-time interactions, an ultra-high definition, two-hour documentary to be broadcast by a major television venue, and related community events. The project’s goal is to increase public understanding of the environmental and social consequences due to Arctic climate change; inform decision makers who influence policy development and action; and inspire students to become the next generation of scientists who will help lead efforts to ensure a more sustainable and prosperous future. Links to the live programs from the Arctic will be shared this summer. To learn more about the different science activities planned for the NPP expedition, please go here.
To learn more about the expedition, project partners, and more, please visit the Northwest Passage Project website. For project updates, please be sure to follow the ISC on social media (#NWPproject).
In April 2016, the ISC team worked with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to help investigators find the data recorder of the El Faro cargo ship that sunk during Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015. Transcripts from the El Faro‘s voyage data recorder (VDR; similar to an airplane’s black “box”) have been released by the NTSB. The VDR’s recording covers the last hours of the voyage and reveal what happened on the El Faro during its final moments. The ISC was integral in the discovery of the VDR, installing cutting-edge telepresence technologies on the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s research vessel (RV), Atlantis. These efforts werepraised by federal investigators. 60 Minutes recently released a piece, “Voices of the Lost”, which tells the story of the El Faro’s unfortunate encounter with Hurricane Joaquin, the NTSB’s efforts to locate and decode the VDR, and the what the recordings revealed. The piece is available on the 60 Minutes website.
The NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer has been very active as it starts its 2017 exploration season. In conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, HI, the ship conducted a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dive on two Japanese mini submarines. Highlights of the dive are available on the Okeanos Explorer website. The historic dive was also broadcast live on USA Today and ABC News. Additional images of the dive are available on NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries website.
After initial shakedown cruises off Honolulu, HI, the ship then sailed to explore the waters surrounding American Samoa, a U.S. territory covering seven South Pacific islands and atolls. Data and information from this expedition will fill gaps in knowledge about the deep-sea habitats in the region and improve overall understanding of the deep-sea biogeography of the Central Pacific. American Samoa lies at the boundary between major biogeographic provinces, and thus is a key area to understand the biodiversity transitions that occur in the deep Pacific Ocean. It is also an extremely important area for deepwater circulation. During the first part of the American Samoa Expedition, from February 16 – March 2, 2017, many amazing discoveries
American Samoa Expedition, from February 16 – March 2, 2017, many amazing discoveries were made including the siting of a new species of cookie brittle star, an unusual stalked crinoid, and even a “living fossil”. The team discovered a living specimen of monoplacaphora mollusk, a species of snail that scientists had never seen alive.
The second leg of this expedition will be a mapping leg to create images of the sea floor, and will take place in April 2017.
The OkeanosExplorer’s has begun its next expedition, “Discovering the Deep: Exploring Remote Pacific Marine Protected Areas”, which will take place from March 7 – 29, 2017. The goal of this expedition is to collect critical baseline information about unknown and poorly known deep-water areas in the Howland and Baker Unit of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM) and the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA). Live footage from the ROV dives are streamed through the homepage of the ISC website as well as the NOAA Okeanos Explorer website. To learn about all, planned Okeanos Explorer activities for 2017, please read the ISC’s latest Okeanos article.
The E/V Nautiluswill begin their 2017 expedition season this spring off of Southern California. Until then, catch up on all of their highlights on nautiluslive.org.
Registration is now open for the ISC’s Summer 2017 session of Ocean Science Exploration Camp. This year’s camp will take place from June 26-30, 2017, at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography in Narragansett, RI, and will focus on geological oceanography.
Geological oceanography is the study of the sea floor, including its composition, structures, and history. Geological oceanographers study processes of the ocean to discover how the Earth and oceans were formed and how ongoing processes may change them in the future. They examine the ocean from the deepest depths to the shallow coasts, including beaches, estuaries, and rivers. New underwater mountains, seamounts, vents, and seeps are discovered during geological oceanography research expeditions. These undersea features are home to many kinds of marine life.
For more information about this summer’s Ocean Science Exploration Camp program and registration details, please visit the ISC Camps webpage.
ISC Education Program Spotlight: “The Unknown Ocean”
The ocean covers nearly 71% of the Earth, yet approximately only 10% of the ocean has been explored.
Scientists are continuing to explore the ocean’s biology, geology, chemistry, physics, and history. This program covers the tools and technologies that scientists use to explore the deep ocean, how animals have adapted to survive in extreme ocean environments, and the technology used to investigate the deep sea. Through videos, demonstrations, and conversations with scientists, participants will go on a journey into the unknown ocean.
All ISC education programs align with the U.S. Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), as well as the Ocean Literacy Principles and Fundamental Concepts. ISC education programs can be booked at the ISC, at your site, or virtually (online).
If this program interests you, take advantage of our “monthly spotlight special.” If you book a The Unknown Ocean program in the month of March (actual program does not have to occur in March) you will receive a 15% discount.
Special Programs with the Girl Scouts of Southern New England
The ISC continues to offer ocean science education programs through the Girl Scouts of Southern New England (GSSNE). Programming will continue through June with topics to include hurricane science and forecasting; plankton biology and ecology; and ocean exploration. Individual girls, or whole troops, can register for these programs. Specific dates and registration details are available through GSSNE website.
This month’s #TBT video takes a look at an uncommon creature found during a NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer ROV dive last month. Scientists were intrigued by this dandelion siphonophore found on the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument (American Samoa). It could be a new species!
It’s been another eventful year here at the Inner Space Center (ISC)! We outfitted two research vessels and a merchant vessel with telepresence technologies, and supported over 100 days of telepresence on the E/V Nautilus, and on the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. Our services facilitated the investigation the El Faro shipwreck, supported a 5-year study of submerged tribal cultural sites in Rhode Island Sound, and enabled the first ever telepresence broadcast from a manned submarine! During the summer, we hosted the next generation of deep-sea scientists at ISC Mission Control as they participated in a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) dive-planning boot-camp. Meanwhile, the Nautilus and Okeanos Explorer continued their ground-breaking deep sea explorations of offshore California, and the Marianas region. Continue reading 2016 – A Year in Review→
If the ocean is so unfathomably wide and deep, how can scientists possibly hope to do any more than dip our noses beneath the waves to explore? Luckily, engineers have adapted machines to reach areas of the ocean that would never be possible with a human alone. This is where remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs, become essential tools of discovery.
To use an ROV, three pieces of technology are crucial. The first is the ship. This is where the scientists are conducting their research, and where the ROV pilot maneuvers the vehicle. The second piece is the tow sled. This piece of technology is used to absorb all of the movement associated with waves and currents, allowing the ROV to be stable. Lastly, is the ROV itself. The ROV and sled are tethered to their research vessel via fiber optic cabling. Through this system, the pilot can maneuver the ROV safely from the ship.
ROVs are designed to withstand the extreme cold and pressure of the deep ocean without malfunction. They are typically either colored yellow or white to stand out against the blues of the ocean, and are built out of materials that are resistant to many atmospheres of compression. ROVs are also balanced with the dense components on the underside, and the flotation portion on top, to offer more stability as it traverses the deep ocean. ROVs can also be equipped with a variety of tools to help them explore efficiently. Since the ocean continually gets darker the deeper one goes, all ROVs are equipped with extremely bright lights. Each ROV has a few high definition cameras that allows us to watch the ROV. They also have two lasers that are used for scale, generally they are 10 cm apart. Most vehicles have biofeedback manipulator arms that are used to gather samples. Some vehicles have a sample box to take bring samples up to the surface for more research.
These incredible machines are vital for scientists to explore parts of the ocean that would not otherwise be seen by human eyes. Tune into the live video feeds below to see ROVs in action, along with more exciting content!
In its second season of Pacific exploration, the E/V Nautilus has been busy mapping and exploring along the western coasts of Canada and the U.S., from Vancouver Island to southern California. The third leg of the 2016 season is currently underway, and will continue from June 27 to July 2, 2016.
The current (third) leg of the Nautilus’ expedition season is focused on the central California region, an area rich in both geological and biological components. Exploration goals include remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dives to investigate deep sea canyons, seamounts, and rocky banks. Some highlights of this expedition will include looking at the deep sea communities from Bodega Canyon to Point Dume as well as exploring the oxygen minimum zones around the Santa Barbara Basin and Channel Islands. Oxygen minimum zones are regions of the ocean in which dissolved oxygen in seawater is at its lowest, usually occurring from 200-1,000m. Organisms found in these regions will be of high interest to researchers due to their ability to adapt to low oxygen conditions in addition to a lack of sunlight and other extreme factors associated with the deep sea environment. The E/V Nautilus will also revisit a site with a large methane seep that was first discovered during the vessel’s 2015 expedition. This site is home to several different bacterial mats and clam beds and is being revisited to complete a geochemical map of the seep.
Later this season, the E/V Nautilus will be travelling to several other locations along the U.S. Pacific coast, including the Southern California Margin as well as the Channel Islands and Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries. Watch the ROV camera feeds and hear scentist dialogues in real time at http://innerspacecenter.org/live-video/nautilus-live/.
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→
If you’ve worked at the Inner Space Center for as long as Alex and I have, it’s rare to see something you’ve never seen before during a live dive. The E/V Nautilus is currently studying volcanic activity in the area surrounding the Galapagos Islands, but they stumbled upon a field of what they believe to be shark eggs. As soon as they appeared onscreen, I called the ISC Video Crew into Mission Control to take a look. Continue reading This is what a shark egg looks like?→
Before the TREET project brought the Inner Space Center and its telepresence enabled scientific research to new highs and lows, before better practices brought new evaluated methodology, before the culture of at-sea science began to craft a new image for itself, Chris German, PhD, and his team were already getting after it. What’s “it?” Read on. Continue reading The Final Piece – Looking Forward to the Future→
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