Following a celebratory welcoming flotilla of ships greeting one of the world’s most advanced ocean-exploration vessels, AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles, Los Angeles City Councilmember Joe Buscaino and scientist Dr. Robert Ballard of the Ocean Exploration Trust announced the Nautilus Exploration Program, a major partnership to bring ocean education programs to Los Angeles-area students and teachers.
Ballard – whose work includes discovering the wreckage of the Titanic and the WWII battleship the Bismarck – has been called the John Muir or Indiana Jones of the ocean. While those discoveries have captured the public imagination, Dr. Ballard believes his most important discoveries were of hydrothermal vents and “black smokers” in the East Pacific, and the nearby exotic life forms thriving from a process now called chemosynthesis.
In 2008, Dr. Ballard founded the Ocean Exploration Trust and acquired the EV Nautilus, which began a voyage around the world in 2013 with his Corps of Exploration. In addition, Dr. Ballard is a National Geographic Society Explorer-In-Residence and a member of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. He is a Senior Scientist Emeritus in applied ocean physics and engineering at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Dr. Ballard shares AltaSea’s belief that the ocean is the next great frontier, not only for science, but for all of humankind’s endeavors. Just as important is to provide ocean education to students, so they can better embrace and understand the potential of exploring the sea.
While docked at the AltaSea pier through next April, the OET and AltaSea will work together to push the boundaries of ocean education, engineering, technology and communications. And in doing so, the partners hope to stimulate the next great waves of invention and discovery, while inspiring curiosity.
“In the 20th Century, Southern California advanced humanity’s knowledge of space and the universe, and, with that knowledge, created industries that employed millions and changed the way we live,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “I believe ocean exploration holds the same promise for Los Angeles and the world in the 21st Century. AltaSea and the Ocean Exploration Trust are opening a path to the unknown wonders of the ocean, and the promise of new discoveries that will help humanity address its biggest challenges, such as sustainable food supplies, sustainable energy and addressing climate change.”
The partnership’s Community STEAM Education Program will foster deeper learning about ocean science and exploration. It will be available to community organizations and students of all ages, from K-12 to undergraduate and graduate levels.
The partnership is also creating a professional development workshop for teachers from 30 schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District that will later be expanded district wide during the 2016-2017 school year.
The partnership will spur AltaSea’s Blue Tech “cluster,” a new focus area developing tech and business applications for remote monitoring, sensing and ocean exploration.
Dr. Ballard has pioneered mapping and undersea exploration, and equipped the Nautilus with two remotely operated vehicles, Hercules and Argus, that work in tandem to explore, sample and capture undersea imagery. The ship also features a high-tech mapping system that increases the team’s capabilities to make new discoveries in the fields of geology, biology, maritime history, archaeology, and chemistry.
“AltaSea and the Ocean Exploration Trust share a commitment to facilitating new scientific discoveries while cultivating the next generation of scientists, engineers and community leaders who will protect and explore the ocean,” said Jenny Krusoe, AltaSea’s executive director. “The good that comes from this collaboration between our organizations exemplifies what’s possible when science, business and education intersect.”