Question Your World: How Can We See the Bottom of the Ocean?

Posted: May 31, 2017

Election debates, the Olympics, lunar landings, and many other historic cultural events have been shared around the world thanks to live broadcasts. Broadcast technology has developed quite a bit in the last three decades and now includes live streams happening all the time from all around the world. Well, some scientists have recently started another live broadcast and this one is totally mind blowing. It started with a simple question like, how can we see the bottom of the ocean?

In a recent study it was approximated that there are about 1 trillion species living on planet Earth. Even more remarkably, the study states that about 99.99% of the species have yet to be discovered with most living below the surface of the ocean. Good thing the science community is filled with many curious biologists and oceanic scientists! 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has just activated 3 cameras from the deepest part of the ocean, the Mariana Trench. This deep underwater destination is located in the western Pacific Ocean near the Mariana Islands. The deepest spot on Earth clocks in at a whopping 7 miles down. To put this in perspective, consider the last time you flew somewhere. Most commercial planes fly at about 7 miles up in the air. The Mariana Trench would be the opposite end of that comparison, 7 miles below the surface of the ocean. 

This super deep live feed is part of the NOAA project, Okeanos Explorer. NOAA plans on having the stream stay up on their website till July 10, 2016. The hope here is to allow humanity to see things that we just can’t otherwise. For the few short weeks it has been available, NOAA scientists have already had the chance to see a lot of deep ocean goings-on for the first time ever. They’ve observed up close and intimate views of new species of corals, crabs, and even fish that swim upside down. Why are these fish swimming upside down? Scientists have no idea, but give them a break, they just saw this stuff for the first time a few days ago! 

This live transmission will provide information on biodiversity, various deep ocean ecosystems, climate change impacts, yield new species, and beyond. Okeanos Explorer aims to make our knowledge of the ocean truly deeper. So, why is NOAA trying to share this with the whole world? Well, because they don’t want to be shellfish…