NOAA marine scientists to explore Caribbean sea

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday April 9, 2015, CMC – Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the United States, will begin a series of dives to investigate sections of the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean that have never been explored.

Starting Friday, the scientists aboard the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer will embark on a mission that can be followed online.

According to the NOAA, the dives are expected to go as deep as 3.7 miles and the unmanned submarine, will broadcast live video from the seafloor, allowing anyone with Internet access to watch the expedition as it unfolds.

“We’ll be exploring an area of the United States Exclusive Economic Zone that science knows very little about,” said Alan Leonardi, director of NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, the federal program responsible for coordinating this expedition.

Many of the expedition’s anticipated 20 dives will take place in the Puerto Rico Trench, which is nearly 500 miles long and nearly 5.4 miles at its deepest – deeper than anywhere else in the Atlantic Ocean basin. Other areas to be explored include the Muertos Trough, Mona Channel and Virgin Islands Trough.

Lt. Brian Kennedy, the expedition’s coordinator and a member of NOAA’s Commissioned Officers Corpssaid the scientists do know a few things about the area.

“They know that it is tectonically active, with some seismic hazards such as earthquakes and tsunamis. They are also fairly certain the area contains deepwater snapper populations, deepwater corals and geological features such as seamounts and mud volcanoes.”

As many as 40 scientists ashore are expected to participate remotely in the expedition.

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