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Date: June 14, 2013

Voices from the deep: 2013 Ocean Networks Canada season features live audio-video portal

People from around the world can now listen in – and watch – as leading scientists study one of the most dynamic and visually spectacular places in the deep ocean, located 250 kilometres off the shore of southern Vancouver Island.

Audio has been added to the high-resolution video feed from the R/V Thomas G. Thompson, which left Seattle, Wash. this week, headed for NEPTUNE observatory sites. Commentary will come from expedition leader Ian Kulin, associate director of Marine Operations at Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), and others in the 28-person crew. The crew includes scientists, engineers, educators, technicians and the team of pilots and engineers that operate a robotic underwater vehicle.

The live video feed has fascinated viewers worldwide since it started last year. The added commentary will give viewers even more insight into the world 2,200 metres beneath the ocean’s surface. ONC is servicing and expanding its underwater cables at NEPTUNE observatory sites in the northeast Pacific Ocean during the two-week expedition.

A special focus will be the Endeavour site, located within a marine protected area along the mid-ocean ridge – a continuous range of undersea volcanic mountains that circle the globe. Scientists anticipate seeing billowing hot smokers, towering mineral chimneys and giant tubeworms as well.

“This will be a challenging cruise that will run 24/7 with a great multi-disciplinary team from Canada, France, Spain, the UK and US,” says Kim Juniper, ONC’s director for science. ”We’ll be testing our satellite telepresence to share live dives with the world via our Wiring the Abyss website, along with informative audio commentary from our onboard team.”

Operations at Endeavour will also include initial surveys and samples for a project led by University of Victoria associate professor in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Laurence Coogan. The project, funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, will study the fluids and emerging new ocean crusts forming on the mid-ocean ridge. “This project will essentially triple the infrastructure and monitoring capabilities at this observatory site,” Juniper says.

The Endeavour observatory is located on the seafloor in a region of hydrothermal vents that host some of the planet’s highest levels of microbial diversity, including extraordinary animals that thrive in the absence of sunlight.

Also on board the R/V Thompson is ONC’s Ship2Shore program, returning for its second year with two onboard educators: Colin Young, from the Vancouver Aquarium’s highly popular education department; and Marty Momsen, a teacher from Houston, Minn, who is supported by Dr. Robert Ballard’s Ocean Exploration Trust.

They’ll experience and share daily expedition operations via live audio and video interactions with classrooms and other locations, as well as through tweets (#abyss13), blogs, photos and video highlights on the Wiring the Abyss 2013 website: http://www.oceannetworks.ca/cruise13/index.dot

For more details about the expedition, see Welcome to the Thompson

Attention editors: High-resolution photos and vimeo highlights are available; also, possible live skype interviews with ship

Media contacts:

Kim Juniper, (Ocean Networks Canada): kjuniper@uvic.ca
Virginia Keast, (Communications): vkeast@uvic.ca

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