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Watch a live webcast of an ocean expedition

See shipwrecks, deep sea life and gas seeps in the Gulf of Mexico during an expedition led by University of Texas at Austin scientist Jamie Austin.

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Join the crew of the ship Okeanos Explorer as they map uncharted swaths of the Gulf of Mexico seafloor, survey diverse deep-sea habitats and marine life, study natural oil and gas seeps, and visit shipwrecks.

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer berthed at the NOAA Ford Island facility located in the middle of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.Image courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

Live video feeds from remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) with high-definition cameras put anyone with an Internet-enabled computer right in the middle of the action.

Jamie Austin, senior research scientist at The University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics, leads the expedition.

What: Gulf of Mexico 2012 Expedition
When: April 11-29, 2012
Where: View live video streams

One highlight of the expedition will come as the team tests a new technique using sound to measure the flow of naturally occurring oil and gas seeps a few miles from the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in 2010.

The disaster caused a massive oil spill. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) plans to conduct a census of naturally occurring seeps in the U.S. portion of the Gulf as a baseline for assessing potential future damage from human-made disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon.

Squat lobster

A squat lobster (right) sitting next to a crinoid (left). A team scientist wrote, “This crinoid waved to us with its long, feathery arms as the ROV was about to leave bottom. Crinoids are quite nimble, some are even known to uproot themselves and walk along the seafloor!”Little Hercules

Jamie Austin leads the third and final leg of a 56-day expedition that began in early March. Austin served as co-chief scientist for last year’s Nautilus Live expedition in the Mediterranean Sea, which also used ROVs and live video feeds to share with the public the excitement of ocean exploration in near-real time.

Known as “America’s ship for ocean exploration,” NOAA’s ship Okeanos Explorer conducts operations around the globe, mapping the seafloor and characterizing largely unknown areas of the ocean.

Interesting seafloor features can be discovered with the deep water multibeam sonar mapping system. Sites are further explored with a conductivity, temperature and depth sensor (CTD) and an ROV.