Ah yes, the ocean: a place where most living things appear to have conjured themselves directly from my nightmares. We know very little about the sea floor, which we have barely observed. In the hopes of expanding our knowledge, the Okeanos Explorer — a project from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — will head to the sea mounts 250 to 6,000 meters deep near American Samoa. What horrors lurk there?
Well there was that adorable octopod, likely a new species, that the Okeanos Explorer found last year. Probably this trip will discover other new critters, since the areas the explorer will check out are fairly pristine. We will almost certainly see coral and sponges. We may be in for some as-yet-undiscovered shipwrecks as well. Personally, I’m hoping for brightly colored worms but I’ll take what I can get.
The ocean floor near Samoa is extremely metal, as it is filled with volcanoes. The ones farther to the east are younger, and each gets progressively older as you go west. So the expedition is meant, in part, to understand the life cycle of Samoan volcanoes, too.
If you need a break, I suggest watching the live streams — the top feed is camera two, the one here is camera one, and the feeds are live from 2PM ET until 11PM ET. (That’s 11AM PT until 8PM PT for those of us who live in a sensible time zone.) Even when it’s just the waves lapping softly at the back end of a boat, it still beats most anything on TV. And who knows? Maybe you’ll glimpse a deep-sea monster.