Gulf of Mexico 2012

Song for the Ocean

Sunrise in the Northern Gulf of Mexico from the Okeanos Explorer deck.

Sunrise in the Northern Gulf of Mexico from the Okeanos Explorer deck. Click on image to read "Song of the Ocean."

April 2

Tara Smithee
Mapping Intern
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

camera icon Highlights from the April 2 ROV dive.

Working at sea has been both an incredible personal and professional experience for me. The Okeanos Explorer is filled with amazingly skilled and passionate people who have had such incredible experiences during their lives, from diving a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) on the Titanic, to filming in Antarctica, swimming with dolphins, and SCUBA diving with sharks.

Okeanos Explorer starboard breezeway: Evening at dock in Tampa, Florida.

Image of an underwater river feature on the seafloor in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Colors indicate depth. Click on image for larger view.

The ROV team has used Little Hercules and Serios to film vibrant deep-water communities of corals, anemone, invertebrates, fish, and sponges that have rarely if ever been seen alive. My own small experience here inspires me to continue to explore, to discover, to ask difficult questions, and to interact with people across the world.

As an intern, I stood for three weeks as a mapping watch stander, learning to use the software for mapping the seafloor with the Okeanos Explorer’s multibeam sonar. With one pass over an area, we can generate a high-resolution map of the underlying seafloor five kilometers wide or more. This is such an important tool that will further illuminate marine geology, ocean water flow, and many other aspects of ocean research.

I am so excited to see the future, and I hope the discoveries of the Okeanos Explorer will inspire further conservation of important marine resources and unique biological areas. I am occasionally inclined towards poetry, so I have offered a summation of my interaction with and hopes for the sea; click on the image below to read "Song of the Sea."


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