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EXPLORING THE DEEP

This blog is my scribbling-pad from exploring the deep ocean, the marine life that thrives there, and the challenges for the future of our blue planet.

There is something for everyone in the sea - incredible beauty for the artist, the excitement and danger of exploration for the brave and restless, an open door for the ingenuity and inquisitiveness of the clever, a new world for the bored, food for the hungry, and incalculable material wealth for the acquisitive – and all of these in addition to the pure clean wonder of increasing knowledge.

John Steinbeck, 1966 letter to Popular Science magazine


For online diaries I've produced from expeditions, please visit TheseAreTheVoyages.net
For my "popular science" articles in magazines & newspapers, please see Writing



What do Sir Roger Moore and a deep-sea fish have in common?


Sir Roger Moore (whose James Bond once quipped "Where there's an ocean, a marine biologist is never on holiday" in "The Spy Who Loved Me") has another claim to fame: according to one of his friends, he may have inspired the choc-ice-on-a-stick Magnum ice cream. But Sir Roger may share the distinction of inspiring ice-cream innovation with a deep-sea fish... (more) WHSA Ocean Pout



Who is involved in developing the world's first deep-sea vent mine?


Nautilus Minerals is poised to become the first company to begin seafloor mining of metals from hydrothermal vents, at a site offshore of Papua New Guinea. But who are the investors and contractors involved in the world's first deep-sea vent mine? (more)



Mapping the deep, and the real story of the "95% unexplored" oceans


We're often told that we know more about the surface of Mars / the Moon / Venus (delete at whim) than the depths of the ocean, and that 95% of the ocean is "unexplored". But is that true? It depends on what we mean by "explored", and how we map the ocean floor. So let’s examine some of the facts behind the “95 percent unexplored” meme and those comparisons with our celestial neighbours... (more)



Which came first in whales: extreme breath-hold diving or large body size?


Our planet's largest inhabitants are astounding animals. An adult bluw whale can have a body mass of ~125 tonnes - nearly twice the body mass estimated for the largest known dinosaur. And what's really astounding about that huge body is that it grows so quickly: from a single fertilised egg to leviathan in much the same time as our bodies grow. That makes blue whales almost impossible animals - but perhaps there is a link to consider between the huge size and breath-hold diving ability of "baleen" whales... (more)



Onwards & downwards: when ROVs or AUVs are lost in ocean exploration


This week saw the news that the Nereus hybrid remotely operated vehicle (HROV) has been lost while exploring the Kermadec Trench at a depth of 9.99 km. Here is a round-up of some of the remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) that have been lost in the service of deep-sea exploration - but also what they had achieved, and how the research in which they were involved has continued... (more)



Shedding some light on the International Seabed Authority


The United Nations International Seabed Authority (ISA) was created in 1994 to administer seafloor mining in international waters, which means that it has responsibility for the environmental stewardship of ~45% of our planet's surface with regard to mining. But what is the International Seabed Authority, and how does it work? (more)



Mining at deep-sea vents: what are the impacts on marine life?


Deep-sea hydrothermal vents are one of the seafloor environments now being targeted for mining of their mineral resources, because the "chimneys" that grow at vents are particular rich in metals such as copper, which we need for modern technology. But what are the possible impacts on marine life from mining at deep-sea vents? (more)



No longer in the dark: our choice for the future of the deep ocean


The frontiers of space have provided iconic images of exploration, such as Buzz Aldrin's photograph of a footprint on the lunar surface. Meanwhile, the first "bathynauts" to reach one of our planet's greatest features - the mid-ocean ridge - did so four years after Apollo 11 touched down in the Sea of Tranquility. And now that that the deep ocean is no longer out of sight, it is our choice whether its future iconic images will inspire or shame us... (more)