A couple weeks back, I had the unique experience of being invited to participate in a submersible dive to the depths of Elliot Bay with the good folks at OceanGate. Upon return, I felt as if I’d spent the afternoon in outer space, check out a few pictures and links to more information.
Based here in Washington, with offices in Everett and Seattle, OceanGate is taking some innovative approaches in underwater work with industry, scientific research, and exploration. Check out their website to learn more about their work, cool videos and pictures of their submersibles.
After meeting up with the OceanGate crew at Pier 66 and reviewing our dive mission, we were escorted out of the Bell Harbor Marina and began our dive in front of the Seattle Aquarium. Stockton Rush, CEO of OceanGate was the sub pilot for our dive, and joining in the exploration was Dana Wilkes, Marine Operations Director for NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program, Joe Downes from US Senator Maria Cantwell’s office, and Benjamin Romano, an editor with Xconomy. Benjamin wrote a really great article on our experience with a bunch of cool photos, check it out here.
The visibility off the aquarium was surprisingly decent, we were able to see the bottom when we were 20ft. from it. There were a number of small fish in the area, anemone’s, Dungeness crab, and we even saw a baby octopus! We cruised up to the “bait box” which has been used in the past to attract Six Gill sharks for viewing via live feed in the aquarium. One of the things that really caught my attention was the volume of glass bottles on the bottom, I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise since glass doesn’t biodegrade. It made me wonder if the submersible could be used in the future to do surveys for sunken marine debris in different areas, and use the video footage to help raise awareness about the impacts of marine debris, and promote solutions to the problem.
After checking out around the aquarium, we dove deeper towards the west were there is a small canyon at a depth of about 130ft. The visibility was a bit more challenging in this area, but we did manage to see a spot prawn on the seafloor. Stockton gave each of us a chance to play pilot and drive the sub for a little bit, this was definitely the highlight of the trip! I was pretty surprised to learn the they use a Playstation controller to operate the sub.
Huge thanks to the crew at OceanGate for allowing me to tag along on this mission, getting to explore the depths in the comfort of a submersible was truly an experience that I’ll never forget!