UW researchers streaming video from ocean floor

VIDEO: UW oceanographers open 'window' to bottom of sea

University of Washington researchers are on their way to an underwater science observatory, thousands of feet underwater.

An elaborate set of cameras, microphones, and instruments on the ocean floor are beaming data back to shore 24-hours a day, and it was all designed and constructed by UW oceanographers.

KIRO 7's Jeff Dubois got an inside look at the project, where they’re discovering things about the ocean no one knew before.

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The ship, carrying a few dozen researchers left Sunday to switch out some of the instruments, add some pieces of equipment, and conduct some maintenance on the underwater laboratory.

The observatory is off the Oregon Coast, roughly 300 miles off shore from Newport, Oregon, above the Juan de Fuca Ridge.

All of the equipment is connected to fiber optic, high-power communication cables that send data -- including high definition video and audio -- back to shore, then it's beamed live over the internet, so that scientists around the world have access to the information.

They're getting a better understanding of earthquakes, tectonic plate shifting, underwater volcanoes, and the sea-life that grows 7,000 feet down, single cell organisms never studied before, that are living in thermal vents, with water that’s 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dubois was at the UW Oceanography Department's dock on Lake Union Friday as they were loading equipment for the 39-day trip.

The workhorse is a submersible vehicle that's outfitted with cameras, sensors, and robotic arms that can set, repair and fine tune all of the instruments thousands of feet down – too deep for human divers.

There are only six other underwater observatories in the world that have the capabilities of the one designed by the University.