Now we can all be deep sea explorers

By Rebecca McLeod 20/08/2010

It is now possible to explore the deep sea without having to leave the couch. No need to get cold and cramped sitting for hours inside the confined space of a submersible.

NIWA have just released an incredible online resource of seafloor images covering the whole of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Have you ever wondered what lies beneath the blue as you have flown over Cook Strait? Did you know that there is a massive network of undersea canyons off Otago? And have you ever realized just how quickly you can plunge into the deep ocean just off the coast of Fiordland? It is also very cool to explore the abyssal Pyuseger and Kermadec trenches that mark the fault line to the south and north of the country.

I am often awed by how little we know about the marine area that makes up more than 90% of our country! But then on the other hand, perhaps the fact that much of this approximately four million square kilometers of seafloor is classified as ’deep sea’ provides a pretty good excuse. One of our resident deep sea explorers Peter Batson published an excellent book called Deep New Zealand: Blue Water, Black Abyss a few years ago. This, or his website is a must see if you want to learn more and see some beautiful photos and drawings of crazy deep sea life forms.

NIWA has only just launched these maps and it seems there are a few small teething issues – for now to download you can right click, open the link in a new window/tab, then save each image. For those interested in how the seabed in such deep areas is mapped, there is great information here.

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