Researchers have invited civilians to watch the Gulf of Mexico's seafloor online as divers explore the strange ecosystem comprising of chemicals instead of sunlight.
Virtual explorers will have the chance to see deep-sea corals, marine life, shipwrecks dating to the early 1800s, through a live video broadcasted from the deep seafloor.
"This is an exciting opportunity for the public to join us as we explore the Earth's ocean to obtain and share scientific information that describes largely unknown ocean areas. This information can then be used by ocean resource managers, coastal communities, offshore industries and others to inform decisions about how best to manage, use and protect the ocean and its resources," said John McDonough, the acting director of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Office of Exploration and Research in a press release.
Technicians aboard the ship are exploring the deep underwater habitats of the Gulf of Mexico using Remotely-Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and camera, the videos of which are sent back to the Okeanos Explorer, NOAA, allowing scientists on shore to explore methane seeps, mud volcanoes, submarine canyons, shipwrecks, brine pools including deep-sea coral habitats.
The 59 days exploration started from 10 April and will continue till 1 May 2014. On the first dive that took place on 12 April, researchers found gas and oil bubbles leaking out from the seafloor close to a large brine pool. They also discovered Anemones, corals, sea stars, fish, crustaceans and tubeworms near the pool, according to Live Science.
On 16 and 24 April, scientists are expecting to investigate shipwrecks and if there is any significant national maritime heritage sites, according to a statement from NOAA. Researchers will explore a deep-sea gorge on 22 April.
Explore the Gulf of Mexico seafloor online here.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/Betty