What's new

Remote ocean research during COVID-19

By , 18 June 2020

Image of a ship Falkor 1

R/V Falcor has a car-sized remote-controlled submarine named SuBastian!
Image: The Schmidt Ocean Institute

By Hannah Evans

The depths of oceans are mysterious. Since Earth’s surface is covered by over 70% ocean, there is a lot to explore. But during a pandemic, it’s a bad idea to fill a research ship with scientists from around the world. Many research ships have stopped sailing, but not all of them!

One research ship, the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s R/V Falkor, continued to sail without any scientists on board. The ship was exploring the depths of the Coral Sea Marine Park, Australia’s largest marine park. It’s off the coast of Queensland, further out to sea than the Great Barrier Reef.

Chief scientist, Dr Robin Beaman of James Cook University, led scientists from around Australia in remote ocean research. While experts from Geoscience Australia were uncovering the sea floor, biologists from the Queensland Museum and Museum of Tropical Queensland searched for corals and sponges, and scientists from the University of Sydney looked for rocks and fish. All the equipment they needed was on board!

Videos from a car-sized, remote-controlled submarine named SuBastian were livestreamed on YouTube. If you watch along, be sure to listen out for Dr Beaman narrating from his spare bedroom.

Photo of an octopus looking like a pink jelly lump.

The expedition found all kinds of strange critters
Image: The Schmidt Ocean Institute

More information

ROV Stream
Falkor Cruise Log/Blog


If you’re after more science news for kids, subscribe to Double Helix magazine!

Subscribe now! button


Leave a Reply

By posting a comment you are agreeing to the Double Helix commenting guidelines.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.