NOAA undertook a new underwater exploration mission in the Gulf of Mexico… and what they found was pretty wild. Josh King has more:
THE GULF OF Mexico is one of the most thoroughly studied ocean areas in the world, but even there, the deep sea remains mostly a mystery. Earlier this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Okeanos Explorer returned from a 23-day expedition to survey and map the Gulf’s deep ocean ecosystems. Working day and night, the crew of 49 people mapped 21,100 square kilometers (8,100 square miles) of the Gulf and deployed remotely operated vehicles to explore 15 deep-sea locations. Meanwhile, almost 200 scientists were able to watch the dives live and remotely analyze the expedition’s data. The team brought back samples of unknown species, photos of unexplored environments and videos of never-before-seen wildlife behavior.
Still, researchers have only scratched the surface of what is in the Gulf’s depths, says Daniel Wagner, the co-science lead onboard the Okeanos Explorer and a research coordinator at the Southeast Deep Coral Initiative at the National Centers of Coastal Ocean Science, which is jointly operated by NOAA and JHT Inc.