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Deep sea diving - from home

Deep sea diving - from home

The call is out to New Zealand schools for pupils to take part in a virtual field trip to the ocean floor of the Pacific Ocean.

Extreme 2004: Expedition to the Deep Frontier will run from November 30 to December 20 this year.

Waikato University and University of Delaware marine biologist Craig Cary will lead a research team to explore the deep sea vents and the organisms that live in them, such as the Pompeii worm, one of the "hottest" animals on the planet.

For the last five years, American students have been able to take part in the National Science Foundation expedition and now it's time to involve New Zealand students, says Dr Cary.

"My hope is to get 50 schools in New Zealand enrolled in the program - with New Zealand's interest in the ocean and dependency on geothermal features this program is a natural. We'll be working aboard the research vessel Atlantis and the submersible Alvin, which discovered the Titanic in 1986. The submersible will be making daily dives to a 2500m deep site about 1500km off the coast of Costa Rica. The team, which includes four researchers from Waikato University, will be exploring how life can survive the extreme temperatures - more than 100 C - experienced down there."

Students from around the world are being invited to be involved in the 21-day expedition - which will mean they can email the scientists during the voyage, design their own experiments and take part in a Virtual Science Fair.

Schools are being offered free classroom materials about the deep sea, including a documentary video, curricula and resource guides for each student.

"There is also an interactive website which is updated daily during the expedition with journals, photos and video clips from the seafloor, and interviews with the crew."

Also, 50 classrooms will be selected to participate in live conference phone calls with the scientists as they conduct research in Alvin on the seafloor. Registrations are on a first-come, first-served basis.

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