— Two high-school teachers have joined a first-of-its-kind scientific expedition to the ocean's depths this week - and you can follow the adventure over the Internet. And if you'd rather follow expeditions on TV, your big week is coming up.
The center of activity for the teachers' underwater expedition is the Aquarius underwater habitat, 4 miles offshore from Florida's Key Largo and 60 feet beneath the sea surface. In the past, the habitat's "aquanauts" have included researchers studying the marine environment 24/7 as well as NASA astronauts preparing for long-term space missions.
This is the 100th mission for the 15-year-old habitat, which is owned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and operated by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. But it's the very first "Teachers Under the Sea" mission for high-school educators.
Miami biology teacher Mark Tohulka is living for 10 days down in the habitat and doing diving expeditions alongside two habitat technicians and three science aquanauts. The aim is to study fish movements at Conch Reef, in order to get a better fix on how much living space should be set aside for species in marine reserves.
Stephen Houwen, a biology teacher from Longmont, Colo., is Tohulka's backup and a member of the surface-based science team on Key Largo.
In addition to helping with the research, the teachers are writing blog postings (the poor guys!) and participating in live Internet broadcasts, Q&As and videoconferences with classrooms. You can dive into all the goodies via the Aquarius home page.
Expedition week coming up
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more about NASA's moon plans and National
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While we're on the subject of expeditions, you will definitely want to tune in to the National Geographic Channel's "Expedition Week" lineup, kicking off Sunday with three shows about ancient Egypt. Other shows in the mega-series will focus on dinosaurs, lost cities, pirates, historical mysteries, the moon and Mars ... the list goes on and on.