Scientists in a sub explore the Salish Sea

OceanGate's Cyclops 1 sub
OceanGate’s Cyclops 1 submersible prepares to dive in the waters off San Juan Island as a Washington state ferry passes by in the background. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. — This week’s Salish Sea Expedition is unfolding amid the heavily trafficked waters off the San Juan Islands, but there’s still plenty of room here for scientific discoveries.

For example, researchers riding a deep-water submersible called Cyclops 1 announced that they discovered a new low for the feeding grounds of a prickly marine species known as the red sea urchin.

“We extended the range of red urchins to 284 meters,” Alex Lowe, a marine biologist at the University of Washington, proudly declared at UW’s Friday Harbor Laboratories, which is serving as the base of operations for this week’s expedition.

The expedition aims to assess the health of the habitats and species in the Salish Sea, a body of water that takes in the coastal waterways around the U.S.-Canadian border, from the Strait of Georgia to Puget Sound. The Salish Sea offers a rich ecosystem as well as a tourist destination and an increasingly busy shipping lane, but its murky waters make it challenging to study in depth — and at depth.

To remedy that, the expedition’s organizers are making use of Cyclops 1, a five-person craft that can descend far deeper than scuba divers go.

The survey expedition is a joint undertaking that involves scientists from the UW and other research institutions, with support from the non-profit SeaDoc Society and the OceanGate Foundation. Everett, Wash.-based OceanGate, which built Cyclops 1, is playing the lead role in getting the researchers to their underwater destinations.

Get the full story on GeekWire.


OceanGate gets sub set for Salish Sea expedition

Cyclops 1
OceanGate’s Cyclops 1 will take on a Salish Sea expedition in September. (OceanGate Photo)

OceanGate had to put off its plan to send a new breed of submersible to the wreck of the Titanic this summer, but now it’s gearing up for an undersea adventure closer to home.

The Everett, Wash.-based venture and its associated not-for-profit outreach organization, the OceanGate Foundation, are teaming up with the SeaDoc Societyfor an expedition in September.

During a weeklong series of dives in OceanGate’s Cyclops 1 submersible, researchers will study the ecosystem of the Salish Sea, the network of U.S.-Canadian coastal waterways that include Washington state’s Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the San Juan Islands as well as British Columbia’s Gulf Islands and the Strait of Georgia.

“Just like the space shuttle provided a unique perspective for scientists to understand space, Cyclops 1 provides our only opportunity for direct human observation of these deep-sea environments,” SeaDoc science director Joe Gaydos said in a news release.

Get the full story on GeekWire.