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‘EXTREME DEEP: MISSION TO THE ABYSS’ SUBMERGES VISITORS IN DEEP UNDERSEA WORLD
It’s a world that, until only recently, no one knew existed. EXTREME DEEP: Mission to the Abyss offers opportunities for hands-on exploration of life at the bottom of the sea. Presented by Evergreen Exhibitions in collaboration with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), EXTREME DEEP is an interactive exhibit that highlights the adventure of deep-sea exploration and discovery.EXTREME DEEP depicts the mysteries of the ocean’s greatest depths. Newly discovered life forms, thermal vents, close-up views of deep-sea research submersibles as well as shipwrecks including Titanic, are among the attractions in this deep-sea adventure. Museum visitors will observe firsthand the technology that only recently has allowed men and women to travel to the ocean floor.”Observation is the cornerstone of science,” says David Gallo, Ph.D. in marine geology and WHOI’s director of special projects. “In the oceans, because of their great depth, observation requires sophisticated technology. Using new computer technologies, we can gather information from the seafloor faster than ever before.”
“You don’t have to be involved in oceanography to have an interest in the sea,” says Gallo. “You don’t have to be a scientist to enjoy the excitement of exploration. But what would happen if we offered our children more opportunities to experience the thrill of challenge or the excitement of discovery? Perhaps we could help children develop a greater interest in scientific discovery or, at the very least, a better appreciation for the pursuit.”
EXTREME DEEP puts the technology necessary for deep-sea exploration in the hands of museum guests. Visitors join fellow explorers in an interior replica of the submersible Alvin’spersonnel sphere, which they can operate to simulate a dive to depths of up to three miles. They can fly a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) over a model of the Titanic’s deck. They can also test their skill at manipulating Alvin’s robotic arm by picking up lava rocks and clams from the seafloor while peering through a re-creation of Alvin’s four-inch viewport window. It’s not as easy as it looks!
Geologic forces deep within the earth drive the great crustal plates of our planet, building seafloor features that create hydrothermal vents. Researchers in WHOI’s submersible Alvin, or using other tools like the remotely operated vehicle JASON and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) ABE and REMUS, study the process firsthand. EXTREME DEEP brings the seafloor to the surface in an amazing display that illustrates the magnificent engineering feats of Mother Nature–the building of enormous “black smokers” that spew mineral-rich fluid into the ocean supporting life vastly different from that flourishing on land or in shallow water.
Patrons will see how currents created by superheated water erupting from the vents carry vital nutrients, which support life forms that few have ever dreamed existed. Among the more than 500 newly discovered species are five-feet long tubeworms with bright red heads rich in hemoglobin, “squat lobsters” and giant white clams the size of dinner plates. The scientists on Alvin use its robotic arms to gather samples of many of these species. Museum guests can manipulate a real Alvin arm and test the dexterity of its claw used to gather specimens and work with various tools.
The sun doesn’t penetrate the water at these depths. The seafloor inhabitants live all their lives in complete and total darkness. They live and thrive on a unique and unexpected life support system, chemosynthesis, which takes the place of photosynthesis at such great depths. These organisms often partner with bacteria to create and ingest nutrients from what humans consider toxic substances like hydrogen sulfide. Thriving in this environment are swarms of shrimp and other animals that resemble their shallow-water cousins, such as scavenger crabs and beautiful, white sea anemone with tapering, pointed tentacles.
“Evergreen Exhibitions is committed to creating a new standard of experiential exhibits to serve our museum partners,” said Mark Greenberg, president and CEO of Evergreen Exhibitions. “In EXTREME DEEP, we’ve created a total-immersion trip to the ocean floor, and we couldn’t have done it without Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. We are eager to share this amazing journey with millions of museum visitors across the nation.”
EXTREME DEEP, designed for ages 6 and older, introduces biology, chemistry, geology, history, exploration and the critical role that technology plays in understanding our world and its future.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is the largest non-profit ocean science research institution in the world. Founded in 1930 in the Town of Falmouth on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the Institution has 1,000+ employees plus over 100 graduate students and an annual operating budget of approximately $215 million.
More than 1,000 research projects are conducted around the world each year in departments of applied ocean physics and engineering, biology, marine chemistry and geochemistry, geology and geophysics, and physical oceanography. Research is also conducted through its Marine Policy Center, which focuses on legal and policy issues related to society’s use of the oceans, and four multi-disciplinary Ocean Institutes encompassing research areas of significant concern to the public and policymakers. WHOI operates two global ranging research vessels (the 279-foot KNORR, and the 274-foot ATLANTIS), as well as the deep-diving three-person submersible ALVIN and a variety of remotely operated and autonomous underwater vehicles and smaller boats for ocean exploration.
Learn more about WHOI at www.whoi.edu.
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Source: Evergreen Exhibitions