Five Dives, Five Oceans, One Planet - Virgin Oceanic Expedition

Thursday 7, April 2011


Five Dives, Five Oceans, One Planet - Virgin Oceanic Expedition


Five Dives, Five Oceans, One Planet - here is an introduction to the science behind the Virgin Oceanic Expedition.


While the Virgin Oceanic depth chart infographic offers a visual overview into the project, and the Virgin Oceanic video provides an artist impression, this is a scientific background.As Richard Branson has explained, the mission behind the Virgin Oceanic Expedition includes a brief to "assist science in understanding our eco system and raise awareness of the challenges facing our Oceans".


Practically, this will include sampling of microbes, water and sediment to give scientists the chance to explore novel life and the inhospitable environments they survive in.


In addition, the Virgin Oceanic Expedition will provide previously unachievable detail and documentation of one of the most unexplored areas of Earth.


For the first time, the deepest trenches in each of the five oceans will be available for surveying, mapping and sampling from an occupied sub.


This is thanks to the unique 'flying' sub's capability to dive deeper than 6,500 metres - the maximum dive limit of current human-occupied subs.


Virgin Oceanic and sub owner and operator Chris Welsh are partnering with scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the University of Southern California, the University of Hawaii and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.


Dr Katrina Edwards, the director of the Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations at the University of Southern California, will be focusing on geomicrobiology and microbal life; the study of how, and what type, of life survives and thrives in sediments and rocks at the bottom of the ocean.


She commented: "From the scientific perspective, my view is that this endeavour offers the opportunity to observe and make measurements in an environment that is otherwise not accessible to human exploration.


"This expedition offers a lens into microbial and other species' diversity at depth in our oceans, the most poorly accessible habitat on earth."


Tony Haymet, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a key science advisor for Virgin Oceanic, added it was "high time" more exploration of the ocean depths was carried out.


He said: "Scripps Oceanography looks forward to working with all the ocean community to marry our new generation of robotic ocean explorers with exciting new emerging technologies that will restart regular deep ocean exploration."


Go to Virgin Oceanic for more detailed information into the scientific aims of Virgin Oceanic.



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