Right now I'm watching NOAA's Okeanos Explorer 2013 dives live online. If you haven't yet sat down to watch some of it, you should! There are three feeds available: a main feed, another feed from a distance off of the ROV (I'm not sure if there are two ROVs in action or not.), and another that shows some of the actual screens that the professionals are looking at.) It's an amazing look at the biology and geology and other -logys of the canyons and other areas of the Northeast Atlantic off the coast of New England/New York (I believe.) -- And it's a great experience in HOW a dive happens.
Without trying, I've been learning a lot from the voices coming out of my computer and the images that they're helping to interpret. What's really great and interesting about this, though, is that there are moments where they're just as flummoxed as you are about an organism or a process - and they rely on a pool of scientists either on their conference call, or through Twitter, to help them interpret what they're seeing. For me, what's even more inspiring are hearing the two amazingly smart, hilarious and charismatic female dive leaders, Amanda (@ademopolulos on Twitter) and Martha (I think she's the crustacean expert <3 ). The team seems to all work together so fabulously, too. The pilots of the ROVs even come up with questions sometimes that seem to have been picked right from my head. We're even lucky enough to have some other scientists along on Twitter to help us identify and who take screen snaps: two noteable ones are Dr. Chris Kellogg (@DrChrisKellogg) and Christopher Mah (@Echinoblog).
After a few weeks of following them, I've already memorized a whole bunch of new information -- the best moment for me was hearing the word "sebastes" and immediately knowing, without having to look it up, that they were talking about rock fish. I was so excited. It's like learning a new language -- and I guess it IS a new language -- and having that a-ha moment when things start making sense.
Today's dive has been in an area between Lydonia and Powell Canyons (take a peek at this cool ocean map of the area! (Lydonia canyon)) And, there's been a lot of quill worms, red crabs, squat lobsters, flytrap anemones, hakes (type of fish), zoanthids, flounders, and more. And, sadly, trash (a piece of metal).
Here's the link to the Stream 1 feed for you to check out tomorrow, since the dive for today is ending as I type this. I sincerely think it's a great way to observe and even participate. Our tax money pays for NOAA and these dives and its so, so worth every penny. My hat's off to everyone involved making this happen and allowing us to watch/participate along with you!