RI-Based Research Vessel Explores Offshore Canyons

Photo/NOAA
Photo/NOAA

ecoRI.com: Officials in the Mid-Atlantic region are considering much-needed protection for some 39,000 square miles of U.S. territory, an area larger than Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey combined.

But it’s not a place many have visited. It’s part of the country’s ocean realm stretching 200 miles from shore, beyond shallow coastal waters. Fortunately, the deep-sea explorations of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) vessel Okeanos Explorer and its unmanned submersible are bringing parts of this vast, largely unknown area into view.

Aaron Kornbluth, a staff member of The Pew Charitable Trusts, recently had a chance to participate in an Okeanos expedition to Norfolk Canyon, about 75 miles east of Virginia Beach. Kornbluth got a firsthand look at the challenges of studying the ocean bottom and the rewards of seeing what lives there.

Read more about the Okeanos Explorer and its research of offshore canyons: