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Island University Alumna Explores Depths of the Ocean Never Before Seen

August 14, 2013


CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas-- One Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi former Doctoral Fellow form the Harte Research Institute is spending the summer going where no man, or woman, has gone before. 

Dr. Morgan Kilgour, who is currently serving a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Connecticut, is exploring parts of the Atlantic Ocean just off the Northeast coast of the United States, that have never before been viewed by human eyes. 

For 36 days during July to August, Kilgour and a team of scientists and technicians, both at-sea on the Okeanos Explorer and on-shore, have been conducting exploratory investigations on the diversity and distribution of deep-sea habitats and marine life. 

The scientists are using National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s new 6,000-meter remotely operated vehicle (ROV), Deep Discoverer, equipped with a high-definition camera, to explore as far down as two miles in canyons and around Mytilus Seamount, an underwater volcano.

During these missions, the teams have collected data targeting areas where both cold seep and coral communities are likely to occur.  

During one dive, they even explored an underwater landslide area, finding squat lobsters, red crabs, and shrimp living in the “scar” left by the landslide. The team has also observed unexplored inner-canyon areas that are home to corals, sponges, and many fish.

The scientists say the need to learn more about these relatively undisturbed ecosystems in these locations is becoming more urgent, particularly as fishing practices, mining activities, and hydrocarbon exploration extend into the deep sea. Increasing knowledge while also discovering new habitats will ultimately benefit the conservation and preservation of these remarkable ecosystems.

Kilgour has been involved in this research serving as scientist-in-residence, directing ROV pilots, answering questions, and identifying some of the sea creatures found.

The exploration continues through Saturday, Aug. 17, and includes live video feeds that can be viewed by clicking here.

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