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Deep-sea exploration helps scientists keep oceans healthy

Posted April 25, 2013

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— Students at the Nature Research Center in Raleigh are waiting their turn to look inside the Deep Sea Explorer exhibit.

Liz Baird, director of school programs at the museum, can tell them what it's like to be real deep-sea explorer. She was part of a team of scientists that explored underwater canyons off the East Coast last year.

Thousands of years ago, the coastline was about 50 or 60 miles farther east than it is today.

“Those ancient riverbeds carved deep canyons that are now underwater,” Baird said.

Those canyons are teeming with life, and they haven't been carefully studied. Baird leaves Monday to join about 30 other researchers for a three-week exploration of deep waters off the Virginia coast. The expedition is a joint effort between federal agencies, researchers and educators from several universities.

“I love being at sea,” Baird said.

deep-sea exploration Raleigh museum explores ocean as final frontier

The Nature Research Center has an exhibit that shows what life is like in the shallow waters off the North Carolina coast. But Baird says it’s a different world in those ocean canyons.

“The most striking difference is that it's completely dark. There is no sunlight down there,” she said.

As they study what lives on the floor of the ocean, researchers are looking for knowledge that could make the oceans healthier.

“We are looking for new things, new habitats, new places that we should keep safe,” Baird said.

Visit the research team’s blog to read stories about the past trip and see pictures from previous missions.


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  • charlesboyer Apr 25, 2013

    Considering that all over the world coral reefs are dying, that fish populations are down precipitously, that there masses of trash tens of square miles in the Pacific and that ocean temperatures are definitely rising, it's very difficult to make the claim that our oceans are "healthy."

  • whatelseisnew Apr 25, 2013

    Hmmm so who was burning fossil fuels thousands of years ago and causing man made Climate Change. What a joke, Scientists keeping the ocean healthy. Are they using high capacity filters?