By SETH BORENSTEIN
Vicious fights! Stunning beauties! Surprises around every corner! Yes, it’s reality TV but with a lot more depth – as much as 10,000 feet. It’s live coverage of deep-sea exploration off Nantucket and tens of thousands of people are tuning in.
They’re watching an eel suddenly attack a squid, oohing-and-aahing over hot pink starfish and listening as excited researchers discover a canyon so downright alien that sea life lives on methane escaping from the sea floor instead of sunlight.
They’re watching science as it happens, however weird and wild.
“We’ve been calling it Deep Sea TV,” said National Marine Fisheries Services scientist Martha Nizinski, in a ship-to-shore interview. “It’s much better than any other reality show being broadcast.”
For years, the world of the deep sea floor has mostly been the province of scientists. A handful of researchers would huddle on a ship and watch the video from below, take notes, and two or three years later write a scientific paper.
Now, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s ship Okeanos Explorer and its robotic submarine explore thousands of feet deep, the view is broadcast live, usually from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EDT, for other scientists and everyday people to follow along to the tune of 50,000 visits.
This image provided by NOAA, shows one of the stranger looking animals researchers saw in Veatch Canyon, a bathysaurus. These fish use their lower jaw to scoop in the sand. (AP Photo/NOAA)