UNIVERSITY PARK, PA – How are coral communities doing now, four years after being damaged by the Deep Water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? You can find out by watching live webcams and texting scientists aboard a research vessel that will be in the Gulf until July 4.
The research expedition is led by Chief Scientist Chuck Fisher, Professor of Biology at Penn State University. Interact with the research team, listen and watch them explore the ocean floor. 24/7 live webcams are on the expedition site, Nautiluslive.org. You can also participate on Facebook and Twitter (@EVNautilus).
“Our mission is to determine the current state of deep-sea coral communities affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, to explore the impacts on the animal communities that live on and around these corals, and to collect samples so that we can examine the response of microbes that live in symbiosis with corals, ”Fisher said. “We are taking images of as many as possible of the same corals that we have tracked over the past four years, and we are also collecting samples to determine the response of corals and microbes to natural oil infiltration.”
Under Fisher’s guidance on this expedition are Penn State Associate Professor of Biology Iliana Baums and several of their students, as well as researchers from a number of other institutions. They use the Ocean Exploration Trust’s Nautilus vessel and the Hercules remote control vehicle.
“The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was one of the greatest environmental disasters in history” Baums mentionned. “As we sail the Nautilus, we will continue our efforts to understand its impacts on deep-sea coral populations.”
The webcams will connect you with researchers on the ship and allow you to hear their live comments on your requests and ongoing research. You’ll also see live views from the R / C research vehicle cameras at the bottom of the ocean, in real time. The content is suitable for all ages interested in exploring the deep sea and the oceans.
Shortly after the end of this expedition, you will again be able to see Fisher continuing a second leg of the expedition, July 6-10, with a 60 Minutes film crew and fellow researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Bremen, Germany.
In addition to Fisher and Baums, the other Penn Staters participating in the current research expedition are research technologist Miles Saunders and students Fanny Girard, Jeffrey Mentch and Samuel (Sam) Vohsen.
These expeditions are part of a larger research program focused on examining the ecosystem-level response to oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico. The research group leading the cruise, Ecosystem Impacts of Oil and Gas Inputs into the Gulf of Mexico (ECOGIG) Consortium, is made up of scientists from a wide variety of disciplines who study currents, ocean chemistry, microbial activity, deep-sea coral communities. and all the rest.
ECOGIG, funded under the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI), studies both natural oil and gas infiltrations in the Gulf of Mexico and ecosystem responses and effects directly attributable to the tide. black from Deepwater Horizon in 2010.
The Nautilus exploration vessel is equipped with some of the latest technological systems, helping to push the boundaries of ocean exploration. Key capabilities include science-class remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), high-resolution seabed mapping, and real-time satellite data transmission.
The Hercules remotely operated vehicle (ROV) working on the ocean floor.
Argus is a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that is attached via a steel armored fiber optic cable directly to the ship. It can be used in two different operating modes: alone or with another ROV. Alone, Argus is towed behind the vessel like a towing sled for extensive visual and / or sonar surveys. In tandem mode, Argus is typically used with the Hercules ROV. In this tandem mode, Hercules is connected … Read more ›
Hercules is a neutral buoyancy remote control vehicle (ROV) that is used exclusively in conjunction with its mating vehicle, Argus, to which it is connected with a 30m length of neutral buoyancy tether. It is the most maneuverable expedition vehicle, and it is used for the most precise and delicate operations. Hercules is equipped with six thrusters which allow it to “fly” in … Read more ›
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