WHOI Waypoints: Web Site Takes Students to the Ocean Frontier


Students and teachers in 22 states and Guam will be among the first to know about never-before-seen creatures discovered by a pioneering expedition to explore seafloor hydrothermal vents in the Indian Ocean this spring. They are following the daily activities and progress of the expedition’s scientific teams using a new Web site called Dive and Discover (www.divediscover.whoi.edu).

Created by WHOI scientists Dan Fornari and Susan Humphris, and WHOI Web designers and artists, Dive and Discover brings students and the general public to the usually inaccessible ocean frontier and gives them an inside look at the sights, sounds, and action of scientific research—almost as it is happening. The site gives teachers and their students unprecedented access to the ship, scientists, and seafloor through daily updates, slide shows, and videos, and through e-mail correspondence with shipboard scientists. The project was co-funded by the National Science Foundation.

Dive and Discover Expedition 4 takes place from March 27 through May 5, 2001. Scientists on board WHOI’s R/V Knorr departed from the Seychelles Islands bound for a section of the mid-ocean ridge in the central Indian Ocean where they expect to find hydrothermal vent activity. The team, which includes biologists, microbiologists, geneticists, chemists, and geologists from eight US universities and institutions, will use the remotely operated vehicle Jason and other deep-diving mapping and imaging vehicles that transmit video and still images in real time from the seafloor to the surface ship via a fiber-optic cable.

“This Web site gives teachers a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate scientific concepts in the classroom, and provides an exciting daily opportunity for students to see science in action,” said Dan Fornari, a WHOI geologist and co-chief scientist of the expedition.