We Brought a Sub to the Salish Sea (PHOTOS)

It’s amazing what you can get done if you have the right tools.

About a year ago, we made the decision to bring a manned submersible to the San Juan Islands for a week of seafloor research. We put out a call for proposals and ultimately decided on three great projects studying deep-dwelling red urchins, sand lance habitat and the effects of seafloor trawling.

In most cases, scientific results arrive slowly after data is processed and analyzed, but when a tool is offered up that grants a new perspective for observation, exciting discoveries can arrive quickly. We saw that during our week with the OceanGate submersible, with team after team brimming with excitement after popping out of the sub after several hours of deep sea immersion. 

For example, one of our teams spotted a red urchin and drift kelp at 284 meters deep, which is more than double the previous record. A discovery like that drastically expands the range of a species and expands our thinking about the role of drift algae ... answering questions and creating many new ones along the way.

Similarly exciting observations were made by the sand lance and trawling teams, which you can read about in the media coverage below. Thanks again to our partners the OceanGate Foundation, the OceanGate submarine team, and our researchers for an exciting week!

In a Five Person Submarine, Scientists Unravel the Mysteries of the Salish Sea
By Katherine Long, Seattle Times

Scientists in Sub Turn up Good News in the Salish Sea
By Alan Boyle, GeekWire

Submarine Takes Researchers Deep in the Salish Sea
By Kimberly Cauvel, Go Skagit