Deep Sea Expedition

By: Amy Morris
By: Amy Morris

The port of Panama City is playing host to some high-tech scientists Friday. Scientists from around the world are gearing up for a 10-day expedition in the Gulf. Researchers are using some new technology to see possibly discover a new species of marine life.

Edie Widder has spent most of her adult life trying to find ways to see the unseen on the ocean floor. Now, some new technology may allow her to do just that. These deep sea investigators will use a high sensitivity camera called the Eye in the Sea. They'll leave it on the ocean floor for 24 hours and hopefully it will record some never before seen marine life.

"Usually the big bright lights scare everything away. We're using a red light illuminator that we hope will be invisible to the animals so it can sit down there and see without being seen."

The scientists will also spend hours exploring several sites in the Gulf in a submersible. Two scientists and two pilots can take the vehicle down to the ocean floor and do experiments.

With just an hour at the bottom of the Gulf, Australia scientist Justin Marshall says he'll have enough data to study for years. Marshall researches the ways fish see and hopes to compare what he finds here to the marine life on the Barrier Reef.

"If you're looking at animals around 1,000 meters, 3,000 feet, sunlight doesn't exist anymore so you could ask the question, why do they have eyes? They live in complete darkness but they still have eyes," says Marshall.

The group leaves Saturday for 10 days in the Gulf. The expedition costs $21,000 a day and is funded by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The team will start the research in Desoto Canyon about 120 miles south of Pensacola.


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