18th Century maritime science meets 21st Century maritime Science

The Museum

Sydney January 7 2020

18thCentury maritime science meets 21st Century maritime Science

From January 7 until January 10 the Australian National Maritime Museum will be hosting the RV Falkor, one of the world's leading maritime science vessels, as it commences a year-long study of the oceans around Australia.

It will be berthed next to the replica HMB Endeavour – one of the 18th Century's most famous maritime science vessels which itself will be undertaking a series of voyages around Australia as part of the Encounters 2020 program. .

"We are delighted to be hosting the Falkor alongside the Endeavour and providing visitors with the opportunity to see 21st Century science meeting 18thscience, "said Michael Harvey, Assistant Director, Australian National Maritime Museum. "The two ships offer a wonderful perspective of how maritime science has shaped our modern world."

Run by the Schmidt Ocean Institute, a nonprofit organization started by Eric and Wendy Schmidt to advance marine research, the Falkor that conducts expeditions at sea and is made available for free to scientists around the world--it's the only year-round seagoing philanthropic research vessel in the world. The Falkor is bringing a science ROV (underwater robot) to Australia for the first time to explore deep sea canyons and coral reefs that have never been seen before.

The diving robot is part of a year-long initiative to conduct seven science expeditions along all four sides of the Australian continent, with the first four-week expedition beginning Jan. 26. The footage and samples collected will have important implications for the sustainability and protection of these underwater ecosystems—and for similar habitats worldwide that are in peril because of rising ocean temperatures.

"Most people don't think about the bottom of the ocean. When you look at a map, the ocean is portrayed as flat blue with very few features," said Schmidt Ocean Institute co-founder Wendy Schmidt. "However, this couldn't be further from what the ocean floor looks like. Picture huge mountains and canyons, exotic hydrothermal vent forests and unique conditions that mimic other planets. There are still so many things we do not know about the topography or the ecosystems that cover the largest part of our earth.

"We know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the deep sea. With less than 15% of the ocean floor mapped, the unexplored depths of the ocean—home to potentially countless unidentified species of animals and organisms—may hold answers to environmental issues like global warming and even the cures for disease."

"R/V Falkor's first visit to Australia was in 2015 when we completed incredible work in the Perth Canyon showcasing underwater worlds that had never been seen before," said Eric King, Director of Operations for Schmidt Ocean Institute. "We are beyond thrilled to dedicate six expeditions to advancing the research capabilities of Australia in a time when we really need to better understand our ocean systems".

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