ONC to Explore Salish Sea and Pacific Ocean

The University of Victoria’s Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) is about to embark on a three-week expedition in the Salish Sea and Pacific Ocean.

For the first time ONC will be using two ships, exploration vessel (E/V) Nautilus, on its first trip to Canada, and research vessel (R/V) Thomas G. Thompson. Both ships are outfitted with robotic vehicles that provide real-time video streams of the ocean abyss to observers around the world, ONC said.

“Ocean Networks Canada is delighted to have access to the E/V Nautilus in this exciting new partnership. It brings with it a world-class team of experts, high tech tools to do the job, and an onboard studio to support live one-on-one interactions from ship to shore. Attracting a ship that is one of only two dedicated ships of exploration in the world is testament to the work Canada is doing in the ocean,” says Kate Moran, ONC president.

Beginning on Aug. 25, the three-week expedition will visit eight sites on ONC’s west coast observatories in the Salish Sea and Pacific Ocean. The observatories span a wide range of environments from Canada’s busiest coastal waterway to the Juan de Fuca  volcanic ridge, 300 kilometres offshore, where new ocean crust is created and hot vents reside, ONC explained.

Scientists from around the world will connect to Nautilus and Thompson virtually while the teams on board install and connect sensors and instruments that will help understand the global ocean.

Along the way the team onboard will be mapping the seafloor, sampling critical habitats, and videoing the hot vent towers to understand how they change over time. The Nautilus is operated by Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) under the direction of its president Dr. Robert Ballard.

Dr. Robert Ballard, a scientist and renowned ocean explorer, says, “I am thrilled to be bringing E/V Nautilus to Canada to support these advanced observatories which align with our mission: to explore the world’s oceans utilizing live telepresence capabilities; to develop innovative technology to enable exploration; and to inspire and educate the public and the next generation of explorers.”

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