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Seafloor & Below

The Underwater United States – virtual event recording

A virtual journey hosted by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean into the submarine canyons off the U.S. East Coast and how they play an important role in a healthy marine ecosystem in a critical part of U.S. territorial waters.

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One Small Step: From Life on the Seafloor to Life Beyond Earth

A team of WHOI researchers and colleagues use a decision-making robot to explore Kolumbo volcano—an ancient submarine volcano sitting 500 meters below the surface off Greece’s Santorini Island in the Aegean Sea. The expedition was part of a NASA-funded program that will attempt to answer a number of key questions: What can the organisms living in the extremes of this dark and chemical-laden underworld tell us about life on Earth and beyond? Are there signs of geohazards down there that may help predict the next eruption? And to what extent can we hand over the decision-making to ocean robots and let them explore without human control?

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Scientists are trying to save coral reefs. Here’s what’s working.

National Geographic

Without a mix of long-term cuts in emissions and short-term innovation, there’s a not-so-far-off future where coral reefs as we know them simply cease to exist, says Anne Cohen, a coral expert at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

ROV Jason captures underwater video during earthquake

In January and February 2020, scientists on R/V Atlantis explored hydrothermal vents on the Cayman Rise. They used the remotely operated vehicle Jason to get an up-close view of the vents and life around them. The vents lie on a seismically active part of the seafloor known as a mid-ocean ridge. Deep-sea shrimp swarm the vents, feeding on microbes that live on chemicals flowing from the vents. While they were there, a magnitude 4.7 earthquake struck just 100 miles away. Scientists will now be able to study how seismic activity affects hydrothermal vents and the life around them.

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Holiday Dive


Happily working through the holidays: Alvin, shown here at the vent site more than 2000 meters (1.25 miles) below the surface being piloted by Alvin program manager Bruce Strickrott.

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Nereid Under Ice explores Aurora hydrothermal vent field

nereid under ice vehicle

The newly upgraded Nereid Under Ice, a hybrid remotely operated vehicle, is deployed from the Norwegian Icebreaker KronPrins Haakon to conduct its first deep ocean dives to 4,000 meters (over 13,000 feet) along the Gakkel Ridge in the Arctic Ocean.

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The Rise of Orpheus


WHOI’s new deep-sea autonomous underwater vehicle moves one step closer to exploring the hadal zone—the deepest region of the ocean—to search for new clues about the limits of life on Earth, and possibly beyond.

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Extraordinary Footage of Octopus Garden

Need a break? Sit back, relax, and enjoy this stunning and calming underwater footage from Octopus Garden, two miles below the ocean’s surface in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS), where thousands of mother octopuses were discovered nursing their eggs. Meditative soundtrack included.

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Diving to Octopus Garden in a Submarine

Check out this amazing footage taken from WHOI’s submersible Alvin in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS), where thousands of mother octopuses were discovered nursing their eggs in a place known as Octopus Garden. WHOI principal engineer Andy Bowen talks with Chad King, a research specialist with MBNMS, about the animals and how federally-protected marine sanctuaries are critical to the health and protection of these incredible ecosystems.

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Discover Octopus Garden

Watch this amazing footage and learn some cool facts about octopus living two miles below the ocean’s surface, where thousands of mother octopuses were discovered nursing their eggs in a place known as Octopus Garden in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS).

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NASA eyes the ocean: How the deep sea could unlock outer space

The Christian Science Monitor

“When hydrothermal vents were discovered in 1977, it very much flipped biology on its end,” says Julie Huber, an oceanographer who studies life in and below the seafloor at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) on Cape Cod. “People knew that organisms could live off of chemical energy, but they didn’t imagine they could support animal ecosystems.”

Geology creates chemical energy: Origin of a massive methane reservoir discovered

Cosmos Magazine

Scientists know methane is released from deep-sea vents, but its source has long been a mystery. A team from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution may have the answer. Analysis of 160 rock samples from across the world’s oceans provides evidence, they say, of the formation and abundance of abiotic methane – methane formed by chemical reactions that don’t involve organic matter.

Origin of Massive Methane Reservoir Identified

New research provides evidence of the formation and abundance of abiotic methane—methane formed by chemical reactions that don’t involve organic matter—on Earth and shows how the gases could have a similar origin on other planets and moons, even those no longer home to liquid water.

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