One Working Remotely Thing: The Wonders of The Coral Sea Discovered

A Dumbo Octopus     Image: Schmidt Ocean Institute via The New York Times

It is often said that we know more about the surface of the moon than the depths of the oceans on Earth, but the wide gap is closing a bit.  Recently, a deep-sea expedition to the Coral Sea northwest of Australia conducted by the Schmidt Ocean Institute, founded by Eric Schmidt, the former chairman of Google, and his wife, Wendy returned with stunning images to share.  Bill Broad of The New York Times wrote an in-depth story that featured the images and described some of the most important findings –– like the gelatinous creature whose length was estimated at 150 feet and the tremendous impact of undersea landslides caused by the steep underwater canyons, for example.

Why This Matters:  Aside from the many discoveries, such as 10 new species of fish, snails and sponges, the entire expedition was conducted remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic — which apparently is a global first, but is unlikely the last time that will happen. The research team consisting of eight Australian scientists working from their homes by linking electronically with the Schmidt institute’s research vessel.  The ship, the Falkor, is a huge football field long and capable of mapping “the remote seabed with beams of sound and deploy tethered and autonomous robots to capture close-up images of the inky depths.”  From the comfort of their studies and living rooms, the scientists directed the mapping of the seafloor as well as the streaming of live video from a tethered robot.  When it comes to working remotely, it’s hard to top that!

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