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Research Vessel Works On Project To Map Little Known Part Of Sea Floor Near Channel Islands

(Photo courtesy Ocean Exploration Trust)
A Pacific Electric Ray in the ocean off of the Channel islands

It’s a huge expedition for a research team from around the country which includes the first look at unexplored canyons, mysterious caves, and volcanic vents, and part of it has been happening in our backyard. But, it’s not happening in a remote backcountry area of the Los Padres National Forest. It’s taking place off the coast.

The Exploration Vessel Nautilus is on its latest expedition, which started with a project continuing to explore the sea floor near the Channel Islands. It’s owned by the Ocean Exploration Trust, which was founded by Dr. Robert Ballard, the famed UC Santa Barbara graduate who found the wreckage of the Titanic.

The Nautilus is equipped with two remote operating vehicles which can be used to map, and explore the sea floor. The mission in the Channel Islands included continuing efforts to map the sea floor near the Channel Islands, to find submerged coastlines.

The Nautilus has now moved on to another project, in the ocean west of the California-Oregon border. Dr. Darlene Lim is the lead scientist for the SUBSEA expedition, which is currently underway. It’s an interesting mission. It combines researchers from NOAA, which you would expect in the ocean, and NASA. Lim says the mission is helping to advance technology, as well as our knowledge of the ocean. For NASA, it may also help us better understand what’s happening in space.

Another part of the six month expedition include a trip past the Hawaiian Islands, to study the seafloor of the little known Pacific Remote Islands National Monument.

And, another project is a little more like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. The EV Nautilus will use it remote exploration craft to explore the sea floor more than two miles under the ocean near American Samoa, to look for the wreckage of a Pan Am Flying Boat which crashed in the area in 1938.

You can travel along on these missions, because the Nautilus live streams its undersea mission through its website,

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.