NOAA is Livestreaming a Deep Sea Expedition and It's Pretty Amazing

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Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are probing the darkest depths of the ocean, thousands of feet below the surface, where natural light can't penetrate.

But the best part for us -- they're live streaming video each day from 5:30 am to 1:00 pm PT until July 11.

"We are trying to go to places in the ocean that nobody's ever ever been, and study and explore them for the very first time," said Alan Leonardi, director of NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.

The live images are streamed from Deep Discoverer, a remotely operated, underwater roving vehicle outfitted with LED lights.

The rover is connected to the Okeanos Explorer, the only federal ship dedicated to exploring ocean depths for the "purpose of the discovery and the advancement of knowledge," according to NOAA.

The expedition, which is taking place off the coast of Florida east of Cape Canaveral, is one leg of NOAA's Windows to the Deep 2019 mission.

Scientists are exploring the conditions about a half-mile underwater, looking for new species of coral, sponges, sea cucumbers, jellyfish and other sea creatures.

"It's completely pitch black," Leonardi said.  "There's no light that penetrates this level of the ocean. So, of course, these species that move around there have eyes that are adapted to look in the dark."

The information could be relevant for Californians, too. The rover is exploring areas where researchers have documented methane seeping from the ocean floor, which Leonardi said is a common occurrence off the West Coast of the U.S.

"As we look at these deep environments, we know that there's a lot of biological activity usually around these seeps," Leonardi said.

Because the video is live-streamed, dozens of scientists from across the country are virtually participating in the expedition, communicating with NOAA's team and each other through interactive chats.