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uwocean1Resting on the sea floor 300 miles west of the Oregon Coast are corals, fish, crabs, and now — thanks to researchers from the University of Washington — 14 miles of cable hooked up to sensors, seismometers and an HD camera.

Those researchers, along with 20 UW undergraduates, just returned from a trip at sea to lay cables on the ocean floor that will power various study sites connected to the Internet. The recent installation is part of a $239 million National Science Foundation project that will allow researchers to monitor and study what’s going on in the ocean from land, all in real-time.

Photo via the University of Washington.
Researchers used robots to lay 14 miles of cable on the ocean floor. Photo via the University of Washington.

The University of Washington is leading this Regional Scale Nodes effort, which is part of the National Science Foundation’s Ocean Observatories Initiative, a long-term research project to study climate change, ocean circulation, ecosystems and plate-scale geodynamics.

The system, set to be completed in 2015, is designed to provide real-time information on everything from underwater volcanoes to marine plants and animals. It’s essentially like having rovers on Mars, but instead on the ocean floor.

You can follow the installation process via blog posts, along with some awesome photos and videos. John Delaney, the program’s director, has a nice video interview here with UWTV.

And here’s some cool footage from the HD camera that was just installed on the seafloor:

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