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WHOI researchers, collaborators receive $1.4 million grant to study life in ocean's greatest depths
Date:3/27/2012

ok nearly a decade to design and build. On its maiden voyage in 2009, Nereus successfully dove to the Challenger Deep, an area nearly 36,000 feet below the surface, providing new and unprecedented access to the deepest parts of the ocean floor.

"With a robot like Nereus, we can now explore virtually anywhere in the ocean," said Andy Bowen, the project manager and principal developer of the vehicle. "It marks the start of a new era in ocean exploration and research."

The unmanned vehicle can operate either as an autonomous, free-swimming robot for wide-area surveys, or as a tethered vehicle for close-up investigation and sampling. It will allow researchers to gather high definition video along the trench axis, as well as recover organisms and sediment samples.

The HADES program will begin its work in 2013 at the Kermadec Trench, an area roughly 750 miles long and 32,963 feet (10,047 meters) deep located off the northeastern tip of New Zealand. It will later conduct expeditions to the Mariana Trench near the island of Guam in the west Pacific.

This expedition will build on studies of the Kermadec Trench by HADES program collaborator Alan Jamieson at UA's Oceanlab and colleagues at NIWA and the University of Tokyo. Using a state of the art, free-falling autonomous baited camera system, the research team documented many new species of animals in the Kermadec and other trenches around the Pacific Rim in the past few years.

"To date, this method has been successful in observing the deepest fish ever seen alive," Jamieson said. "By combining WHOI's HROV Nereus with Oceanlab's Hadal-Lander technology, the team have the best available technology at their disposal."

Despite the harsh conditions in ocean trenchesicy temperatures, intense pressure, no sunlightsome species are able to thrive there. For one reason, food is plentiful, as organic material in the ocean is moved by currents and pulled down into the abyss.

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Source:Eurekalert

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