The sun sets on the last night of our exploration

As the sun sets on the last night of our exploration, the entire science party can be proud of what we have accomplished. Click image for larger view.

Mission Summary: Exploration in Its Purest Form

August 17, 2004

News Flash: camera icon The Eye-In-The-Sea camera captures giant isopods and a hungry six-gill shark.

Edie Widder
Chief Scientist
Operation Deep Scope

To say that Operation Deep Scope was a success would be an understatement. We are returning with an embarrassment of riches – enough data to keep us all busy for some time. The emphasis on this cruise has been to peer into the depths of the ocean with new technological eyes. Our explorations have been richly rewarded with remarkable visions: giant predators such as camera icon six-gill sharks and a deep-sea squid, camera icon fluorescent fish and animals, and camera icon flashing corals. We have also gained new insights into camera icon how predators locate invisible prey as well as how we can begin to open a window into the camera icon secret goings on of the dark depths.

Deep Scope has been exploration in its purest form – something that is all too rare. Limited funding for marine science has necessitated a conservative approach, where only those projects that seem assured of significant and financially rewarding results receive support. Exploration of the sort we have just completed often yields rich and unexpected rewards. At the very least, it teaches us to wonder at the beauty of our planet.

The fast-paced world we live in today often frowns upon those of us who want to stop, look, and listen to what nature has to teach us. Many people seem to think we have learned enough from our planet, and that now we can push on, regardless. Nothing could be further from the truth (as the mess we leave in our wake clearly demonstrates). We have much to learn from the animals that have inhabited this place for millions of years before us, both in terms of their tricks for survival and how to prevent their disappearance. We must protect and cherish this world, or we will lose the exciting innovations of nature, even before we discover them.

The deep seafloor holds many beautiful scenes.

The deep-sea floor holds many beautiful scenes, such as this one. Exploring how plants and animals have adapted to life in this extreme environment can open doors to a greater understanding of our planet. Click image for larger view.

The biotechnological potential of this red fluorescent starfish is one of the most promising animals studied on this mission.

In terms of biotechnological potential, this red fluorescent starfish is one of the most promising animals studied on this mission. Click image for larger view and further details.




A vast volume of our oceans remains unexplored, and it is thrilling to think what mysteries have yet to be revealed. The spirit of pure exploration is one we can afford to invest in. Indeed, we cannot afford not to.