McNeese biology professor leaves for three-week deep sea exploration

McNeese biology professor leaves for three-week deep sea exploration
MSU Asst. Professor Dr. Amber Hale (Source: Ocean Exploration Trust)
MSU Asst. Professor Dr. Amber Hale (Source: Ocean Exploration Trust)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - McNeese Assistant Professor Dr. Amber Hale is one of 17 educators worldwide who was selected to be part of an underwater research mission.

Her three-week journey began Monday morning, as she left for the deep sea exploration hosted by the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET).

OET was founded in 2008 by Dr. Robert Ballard, the explorer and oceanographer who discovered the Titanic wreckage.

The research mission Hale is on is called the Nautilus Exploration Program.

"Historically, I've just always wanted to do this. I love science. I love the idea of exploring our world," said Hale. "It is mostly water and we don't know that much about it. We know more about space than we know about our own planet and so I think it's really interesting and a lot of really potentially important discoveries yet to be made in the ocean."

Nautilus is the name of the 64-meter research vessel that Hale will call home for three weeks. She will be on the first of five legs of the expedition. Her journey begins in Victoria, British Columbia and ends in San Francisco.

"There's 31 scientists on the ship at any given time, including myself, and when the robots are diving they are going to be making moves. They're going to be collecting samples. They're going to be trying to get views of things and the lead scientist is in charge of that," she explained. "My job is to take all that scientific jargon and translate it for the people watching at home so that they can understand why we're moving the robots like we are or why we're doing what we're doing."

Hercules and Argus are names of the two remotely operated vehicles (ROV) that will be diving 4,000 meters underwater. They will help researchers study methane seeps which is the process of gas coming up from the ocean floor.

"That's really neat because there's a lot of application there. Not only could they be used to clean up say oil spills but really just for the basic science. We don't understand it and it's really neat and we're just learning about it," she said.

Hale said the most exciting part about this expedition is sharing this groundbreaking research and opportunity with her students.

"I am passionate about getting people interested in science and this is just one more way for me to really connect something awesome with students here in Lake Charles. We get to bring this home," Hale explained. "My students know my face. They're going to be able to see me out there. I have a live interaction set up with my McNeese students. I think it's really awesome for them to see, 'Hey someone from my hometown is doing this thing out in the ocean and it really says hopefully, if she can do it, I can do it too.'"

The Nautilus Exploration Vessel will be available online via livestream 24 hours a day. Hale will narrate parts of the research online.

To follow the journey, click HERE.

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