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In Long Beach, drafting a blueprint for exploring the world's oceans

Petroleum IndustryCorporate OfficersU.S. Geological SurveyGoogle Inc.Satellite TechnologyNASA

More than a hundred explorers, scientists and government officials will gather at Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific on Friday to draft a blueprint to solve a deep blue problem: About 95% of the world's oceans remains unexplored.

The invitation-only forum, hosted by the aquarium and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, aims to identify priorities, technologies and collaborative strategies that could advance understanding of the uncharted mega-wilderness that humans rely on for oxygen, food, medicines, commerce and recreation.

Of particular interest are U.S. coastal waters, including the exclusive economic zone extending 200 miles out to sea, a vast and strange terrain of undersea ecosystems, mineral resources and archeological sites.

“We know more about the surface of Mars than we do about the bottom of the ocean," said Larry Mayer, director of the University of New Hampshire’s Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping. “I love space exploration, but I do not understand why the public is not just as enthralled in exploring our planet’s ocean. It has just as many mysteries.”

Jerry Schubel, president and chief executive officer of the aquarium, called the forum "a step toward creating the same kind of excitement as exploring outer space.”

Forum participants include the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration, the Schmidt Ocean Institute, Google Inc., NASA, the National Geographic Society, the Roddenberry Foundation, the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. State Department.

The public can view live video streams from the researchers' meeting, which ends Saturday, and from exploration vessels at sea including the Okeanos and Nautilus.

On Sunday at the aquarium there'll be a public event called Explorers Day, which will offer visitors an opportunity to meet ocean explorers including Sylvia Earle and Don Walsh and see demonstrations of remotely operated deep-sea vehicles.

louis.sahagun@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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