NOAA 2000-411
Contact: Matt Stout


Santa Barbara, Calif., June 8, 2000 - Sustainable Seas Expeditions launched the 2000 Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary mission with a live Internet chat with undersea explorers today. The event represents a cooperative effort between Sustainable Seas Expeditions, NOAA's Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, Channel Islands National Park and NASA.

During the live Internet chat, viewers were able to ask questions of ocean explorer and expedition leader Dr. Sylvia Earle, a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. The uplink also featured live underwater exploration and interactive questions of research divers from the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park.

Sustainable Seas Expeditions is the first systematic exploration of the deep waters of America's national marine sanctuary system, with exploration missions continuing on both coasts of the U.S. in 2000. SSE will be in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary for a 19-day mission from June 8 - 24, 2000.

Sustainable Seas Expeditions is a project of the National Geographic Society in cooperation with NOAA, made possible by the Richard & Rhoda Goldman Fund. Started in 1998, the five-year project involves deep-water exploration and public education in NOAA's National Marine Sanctuaries. Undertaking the first systematic exploration of marine sanctuaries to depths of 2,000 feet, SSE is photodocumenting the natural history of each sanctuary's plants and animals and establishing protocols for the first systemwide monitoring network.

By directly involving teachers and students in conducting operations and analyzing data, SSE focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of marine reserves within sanctuary boundaries, exploring canyon systems and documenting behavior of marine organisms. For the uplink, participating students, including fourth graders from Blanche Reynolds
school, observe and take part in a Web chat from the visitor center at Channel Islands National Park. On Anacapa Island, part of the Channel Islands National Park, students and teachers from area high schools participate as part of the Sustainable Seas Expeditions Student Summit."

During the Channel Islands Sustainable Seas Expeditions, the NOAA research ship McArthur will be in sanctuary waters for 19 days, conducting research 24 hours a day. Dr. Sylvia Earle is leading the expeditions using a remotely operated vehicle and two of the newly designed DeepWorkers; one-person submersibles that can dive to depths of 2,000 feet. These innovative submersibles enable the expeditions to explore areas that are usually studied from the surface. Important data being gathered include information on currents, living resources, habitats and conditions."

"Parts of the sanctuary are deep beyond everyday access," said Lt. Cmdr. Matt Pickett, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary manager. "By learning and gathering more detailed information about these areas, we are better able to understand the resource and protect it.

Picket added, "Sustainable Seas Expedition adds another dimension to ongoing research in the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary. DeepWorker's direct observations multiply the value of remote technologies, by allowing scientists to compare and confirm research being done from the surface."

The uplink to the Internet marking the launch of SSE's Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary mission, allowed observers to share in the underwater exploration experience firsthand. NASA's Oceanography Program provided funding and technical support and additional technical assistance was provided by RAIN, the Regional Alliance Internet Network.