Nautilus

The Ocean Gets Big Data

I think that for some people,” says Peter Girguis, a deep-sea microbial physiologist at Harvard University, “the ocean seems passé—that the days of Jacques Cousteau are behind us.” He begs to differ. Even though space exploration, he says, “seems like the ultimate adventure, every time we do a deep sea dive and discover something new and exciting, there’s this huge flurry of activity and interest on social media.” But the buzz soon fizzles out, perhaps because of ineffective media campaigns, he says. But “we’re also not doing a good job of explaining how important and frankly exciting ocean exploration is.”

That might change with the launch, this month, of the Ocean Observatories Initiative, an unprecedented network of oceanographic instruments in seven sites around the world. Each site features a suite of technologies at the surface, in the water column, and on the seafloor. Buoys, underwater cameras, autonomous vehicles, and hundreds of

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