Contact: Fred Gorell
NOAA News Releases 2005
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What’s the average salinity of the ocean? Is Earth’s highest mountain above or below the sea? What are rusticles? How far is “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea?” Visitors to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s redesigned Ocean Explorer Web site can team up with other players around the globe to answer these and other questions to reveal pieces of an ocean-related picture-puzzle, one new element in the redesigned award-winning Web site launched today at

“While the ocean challenge puzzle is new, the Ocean Explorer Web site has a long record of promoting ocean literacy through the excitement of exploration,” said Richard D. Rosen, NOAA assistant administrator for oceanic and atmospheric research.

“The site delivers the science and the discoveries of expeditions, but also the texture--the virtual experience--of being part of an expedition,” said Tom LaPointe, who leads a team that coordinates this and other NOAA Web sites. “If teachers and students, and armchair explorers, learn something because they feel connected to our missions through the spirit of exploration and discovery-- we will have done well.”

With daily reports from scientists at sea richly illustrated by still and video images from the seafloor, chronicles expeditions to unknown or poorly known areas of the ocean. Teachers will find lesson plans at the site that are linked directly to expeditions and to National Science Education Standards.

“These educational materials, especially when combined with the Professional Development Institutes we sponsor, and the near real-time Web coverage of our missions, bring all the excitement of ocean exploration into the classroom,” said Paula Keener-Chavis, national education coordinator for NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration. “We equip teachers and students to be virtual members of an at-sea team of scientists and explorers. Education doesn’t get much better than that.” Students can learn more about a variety of marine science careers at OceanAGE Careers under the site’s ‘Education’ area where scientists explain what they do and how they started their careers.

“We’ve improved the look of the site and simplified navigation,” said Web site Manager Mike Shelby. “It’s easier to get to chronicles of ocean expeditions because they are tabbed by year rather than added to a long list. A new section, ’For Fun,’ hosts the ocean challenge puzzle as well as a printable calendar and screen savers, all with great images from the deep ocean.”

More than 6,000 people visit the Web site daily. One popular offering is the 2002 Submarine Ring of Fire expedition where visitors go on a virtual mission to any of four deep-ocean hydrothermal vent fields at Magic Mountain, a tectonic spreading zone off Vancouver Island, B.C. With just a few computer clicks, Web visitors take an animated fly-through of the vent fields, control the movements of a deep sea remotely-operated vehicle, and join the exploration team virtually as scientists respond to seeing a translucent octopus and observe chimney smokers never before explored.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems, NOAA is working with our federal partners and nearly 60 countries to develop a global Earth observation network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

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