Two robotic submersibles, or ROVs, have just plunged into the warm waters off the coast of Hawaii and are plunging 2100 meters to the sea floor to explore. And it's happening right now, live. You can watch the squid swim by and visit this remote region that's never been explored by humans.
This is the result of the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's exploration ship Okeanos Explorer, on a month-long research journey to the northwestern Hawaiian Islands. I've been watching since the sleepy researchers and techs woke up this morning and put the robots into the water. As they booted up the robots, one tech actually asked, "Are you ready for the lasers?" Day = made.
Today's dive site is at a place called Salmon Bank, and the robots will land on a ridge. They're due to hit the bottom at about 8:30am AEST. Here's where they are:
This area is interesting because the top is flat, 20 km in length, with some areas rising up very near to the ocean surface. It's largely unmapped, and is swarming with life.
As you watch the exploration unfold in the video above (which is on one ROV) and below (which offers a view from a second ROV and from the instrumentation panels on the ship), you can hear the researchers chatting and joking around -- as well as learning more about the ecosystem that thrives at the bottom of the ocean.
Learn more at the Okeanos Explorer website. There will be several more dives this August, so if you missed the one today, check to see if there's one going on right now!