One Tank Trip

One Tank Trip: Extreme Deep: Mission to the Abyss

WILMINGTON, Del. - There's a whole world deep down in the ocean. Some we know about; some we don't, and how we see and discover it can be exciting all on its own.

"You get up close and personal with all of the science that makes it possible to do the work that they do, so there's a lot of hands on activities," explained Helen Bilnski, the exhibit manager.

At the Delaware Museum of Natural History in Wilmington, Delaware, "Extreme Deep: Mission to the Abyss" shows you how researchers get down there.

It's good timing. One of the museum's curators, Dr. Elizabeth Shea, is about to head off on an expedition.

"She's a teuthologist, which means she studies squishy things like squids," Bilinski said. 

Shea will be out to sea for weeks, working with equipment like Alvin, a deep-sea submersible that can dive nearly three miles and carry a pilot and two scientists.

"It's incredibly cramped quarters in there, and it takes about five hours to get down to the bottom to do their research and takes about about another five hours to come back on up," Bilnski said.

Once you see the model, you can check out the life-sized replica, control the camera and explore the deep on your own. You'll also see Alvin's robot arm on the port, or left-hand side. It can extend more than six feet and lift 150 pounds made out of titanium.

"We've gone and turned it into a game where you try and pick up the sponge just like the researchers would do," Bilinski said.

Two other submersibles, REMUS and AUV, an autonomous underwater vehicle, work remotely. The AUVs go out to sea, dock when done and send back the data.

You'll also see an ROV with the name JASON. It runs with a tether and takes high quality images. Always connected to the surface, JASON is tethered with six miles of fiber-optic cable.

So there's what lives in the depths of the ocean and what's been left behind. There are small replicas of the sunken German warship the Bismark and the Titanic.


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