In the fifth year of partnership with the University of Victoria’s Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), the E/V Nautilus provided support to their NEPTUNE observatory, an 800-kilometer (500-mile) loop of fiber optic cable located off the west coast of Canada. This subsea infrastructure connects underwater instruments at various deep sea sites, including hydrothermal vent chimneys, that enables scientists to study seafloor phenomena through continuous long-term observations. Long-term data is critical in understanding seafloor habitats like the continental shelf, slope, submarine canyons, abyssal plain, and spreading centers and how they are changing.
One of the most stunning regions of this networks is the Endeavour Vent Field, a complex hydrothermal system — and one of the most hostile environments on Earth. Located in this seemingly uninhabitable seascape are at least a dozen species that are found nowhere else in the world. In 2003, it was classified as a Marine Protected Area in 2003 and became the first protected marine area in Canada, and the first hydrothermal vent ecosystem protected in the world! Learn more about some of the features of this unique region, and more about the tools researchers use to monitor this region.