Explore Mariana Trench with Live Video Feed
It's your chance to probe the world's deepest waters. Continue reading →
Here's an odd fact about the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Okeanos Explorer, the nation's only federally funded ship assigned to explore the world's oceans: Most of the scientists who participate in its missions remain onshore.
That's because the ship is wired with video cameras and broadband Internet to enable telepresence, in which observers on land can watch live images from the ocean floor from the comfort of their own desks.
Now, NOAA is providing you with a chance to see some of the same amazing sights that the scientists view. From now until July 10, as the Okeanos Explorer probes some largely unexplored areas in and around the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument and the Northern Marianas Islands in the Pacific, you'll be able to watch a live video feed.
The ship is equipped with two robotic remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), which descend into the depths. Here's a map that tracks the ship's location in real time.
Located in the Mariana Archipelago east of the Philippines, the national monument protects about 95,000 square miles of ocean waters and floor. The Mariana Trench itself is the deepest place on the planet, farther down than the summit of Mount Everest is above sea level.
One portion of the monument, an arc of undersea mud volcanoes and thermal vents, supports exotic life forms that exist in some of the harshest conditions imaginable on the planet - highly acidic and boiling-hot water.
One of its features, the Champagne vent, produces almost pure carbon dioxide, one of only two such known sites in the world.
Another of the monument's curiosities is the Daikoku submarine volcano, which has the planet's only pool of liquid molten sulfur. The other such known pool is on Io, a moon of the planet Jupiter. For more information, check out this primer from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's ship
is concluding its exploration of largely unknown deep-sea ecosystems of the Atlantic coast of the United States, including submarine canyons and the New England Seamount Chain. Here are some of the spectacular undersea images captured by the researchers during their mission. Above, the sea was too turbulent for diving on this day, but it was a striking subject for photography.
One of the highlights of the exploration of the Atlantis II Seamount Complex was a glimpse of this dumbo octopus.
An eel pout burrows into the soft sediment on the seafloor of Ryan Canyon.
This photo of a pompom anemone from the Physalia Seamount was taken by the expedition's remotely-operated robotic vehicle, the Deep Discoverer.
Here's an image of the Deep Discoverer at work.
Sponges, including this carnivorous sponge, were one of the most abundant fauna on an unnamed seamount explored by the Deep Discoverer.
On the Gosnold Seamount, the expedition's robotic probe encountered a large black coral along the edge of a very steep cliff that was heavily encrusted with coral and sponges.
In McMaster Canyon, the Deep Discoverer captured this strange image of a pancake urchin scuttling across some discarded human debris.