Environment

Scientists are exploring the ocean depths off Big Sur — and you can watch live online

Ever wondered what lives in the depths of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary? Now you can find out in real time.

A team of explorers is in the midst of a 10-day expedition into a deep-water area off Big Sur near the Davidson Seamount — and it’s being streamed live online.

The Ocean Exploration Trust — founded by Titantic explorer Dr. Robert Ballard in 2008 — has been exploring the eastern Pacific Ocean for the past four years, according to the Nautilus Live website.

>> CLICK HERE to watch the Nautilus’ live feed.

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The Argus (left) and the Hercules (right), two remotely operated vehicles being used to explore deep water areas of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Claire Fackler National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

In partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the trust’s team launches robot-like remote-operated vehicles from the exploration vessel Nautilus, which are equipped with cameras, probes and sampling systems.

The team began exploring the Monterey Bay marine sanctuary on Oct. 21 and will wrap up on Oct. 31. Their next stop is the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

The seamount is a 7,480-foot-tall underwater mountain located 80 miles south of Monterey and l, yet its summit is still 4,101 ft below the sea surface.

The seamount is a 7,480-foot underwater peak located 80 miles southwest of Monterey and 75 miles west of San Simeon. The peak is so deep, even its summit is 4,101 feet below the surface.

The camera was out of service for a couple days when the team had to return to San Diego to repair the cable attached to the remote-operated vehicles, which broke during a particularly deep dive, Andrew DeVogelaere, research director for the marine sanctuary, told The Tribune in a phone interview.

But by Sunday afternoon, the team was on its way back to the Davidson Seamount, with cameras broadcasting a live feed of the vessel motoring up the coast under sunny skies.

So far, the expedition has allowed researchers to reach depths of the bay no one has seen before — down to 12,000 feet, DeVogelaere said.

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“We know more about the surface of the moon than we do the bottom of the ocean,” he said.

The team — and all those watching online — have seen ancient corals and sponges, sea pigs and deep-water octopuses, DeVogelaere said.

During one particularly special moment, the cameras captured more than 1,000 deep-sea octopuses, including females guarding their eggs.

DeVogelaere said the live stream allows the public to see the discoveries, along with scientists watching around the world. It enables them to be part of the expedition without physically being on a boat off the California coast.

“We’re very excited to have it working inside the Central Coast area,” he said.

To watch the Nautilus Live exploration, and to ask explorers questions in real time, visit nautiluslive.org.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseymholden
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