We have seen less of the seafloor than we have the surface of the moon. The Corps of Exploration, which includes scientists, engineers and other specialists aboard the Exploration Vessel Nautilus, are trying to change this by exploring the largest environment on our planet: the deep sea. Environmental factors, such as the intense pressure and near-freezing temperatures, make the deep sea difficult to study because scientists are unable to ‘visit’ this habitat without the aid of technology such as submersibles and unmanned, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). Scientists aboard the E/V Nautilus are able to conduct research and see the ocean depths through the lens of the HD cameras on the ROVs Argus and Hercules. With these robots, scientists are able to complete scientific missions in a range of disciplines such as geology, biology, chemistry, archaeology, and ocean engineering.
You can join the exploration in real time by tuning in to nautiluslive.org but what is it actually like to live and work on Nautilus? Two oceanbites writers set sail on the E/V Nautilus during the Exploration of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, looking at deep-sea canyons. Megan Chen joined the team as a Science Communication Fellow and Ashley Marranzino worked as part of the science/data team. To give you an idea of what it is like to live on an active research vessel, Megan and Ashley give oceanbites readers a special behind-the-scenes tour!
To see a full walk-through of the ship, you can watch a video tour.
The 2017 Exploration Season is continuing through November. Tune in to watch the Corps of Exploration explore hydrothermal vents, underwater mountains, and more! You can also learn more about the 2017 Exploration and about how science is conducted aboard Nautilus in previous blog posts.
I received my Master’s degree from the University of Rhode Island where I studied the sensory biology of deep-sea fishes. I am fascinated by the amazing animals living in our oceans and love exploring their habitats in any way I can, whether it is by SCUBA diving in coral reefs or using a Remotely Operated Vehicle to see the deepest parts of our oceans.