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Mapping the deep, and the real story behind the “95% unexplored” oceans

At the end of this month, we will be running an update of our free Massive Open Online Course ("MOOC") about "Exploring Our Oceans", intended for anyone interested in finding out more about our watery world, with no previous background in science required. One topic we'll look at in Week 1 of the course, "A hidden landscape", is how we map the ocean floor, and how much has been mapped at different levels of detail. Continue reading →

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

While preparing some size-comparisons of marine life for Week 3 of our free Massive Open Online Course on "Exploring Our Oceans", I was particularly struck by how whales are astounding animals. An adult blue whale can have a body mass of ~150 tonnes. That's around twice the body mass estimated for the largest known dinosaur ever to walk the Earth, and equivalent to the body mass of around 2000 people (i.e. the population of a village, perhaps). Continue reading →

Onwards and 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, during an expedition that has revealed that part of our planet as never before. To link with Week 5 of our free Massive Open Online Course on "Exploring Our Oceans", during which we focus on how we explore the oceans, this post takes a look at some of the ROVs and AUVs that have been lost during ocean exploration. Continue reading →