The Cabled Array provides the ability to be present interactively throughout portions of the ocean without actually being there. This transformational shift in technological and research abilities can enable parallel and equally powerful educational opportunities in real-time ocean phenomena that can reach a vast spectrum of Internet-connected audiences in a host of settings ranging from science centers, museums, theaters, to living rooms, personal computers and handheld devices. By connecting to these audiences, our goal is to shift the awareness and appreciation of the public regarding the crucial importance, the dynamic behavior, and the finite nature of the ocean that can drive or disturb the ecological stability of Earth's ecosystem. Additionally, real-time data flow from the cable provides a window into opportunities available to next-generation scientists and engineers into the arena of scientific inquiry, engineering design, and technological innovations.
For the past ~15 years, we have brought the experience of oceanographic research and discovery to the public through a variety of avenues. Beginning in the late 1990s, we brought the deep sea to the public through NOVA and BBC documentaries and several thousand pound samples of hydrothermal vents to sites across the country, including the American Museum of Natural History and Seattle's Pacific Science Center. In 2005, we connected to onshore audiences though a real-time video stream during an oceanographic research expedition for the first time. In subsequent years, including the VISIONS'15 cruise, this real-time connection effort has evolved to enhance the experience for viewers by adding more technologies and interactive components, allowing viewers to experience sea-going research without actually being there.
We continue this dedication to public engagement through the annual VISIONS cruises, taking 20-45 undergraduate students to sea on our Operations and Maintenance cruises, through continued partnerships with production studies, and through K20 outreach.