The 211-foot ship sitting off of the Santa Barbara shoreline last weekend wasn’t just the yacht of another Russian billionaire. It was the Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus, the education and research vessel launched in 2009 by legendary ocean explorer and UCSB alum Bob Ballard, who’s used his fame as the discoverer of the Titanic to turn millions of kids around the world onto the intrigue and importance of marine science.
This summer, after past missions in the Gulf of Mexico and Mediterranean, Aegean, Black, and Caribbean seas, the Nautilus is exploring the Pacific Coast of North America, traveling from Canada in May down into Central and Southern California through July and August, including nearly a month around the Channel Islands. All day every day, anyone can watch the research in action via the vessel’s often quite exciting live feed at nautiluslive.org and even engage with scientists as they do their work.
Two Santa Barbarans will join the mission this summer, as well: Eric Lindheim-Marx, a soon-to-be 17-year-old competitive swimmer going into his senior year at Dos Pueblos High, where he is part of the Engineering Academy; and Katelyn Standerfer, a chemistry teacher and soccer coach at San Marcos High who studied aquatic biology and got her master’s in education at UCSB.
After a three-week course at the University of Rhode Island, where Ballard is based, Lindheim-Marx will be onboard August 7-14, working as a data logger for the team. “I’ve been in love with the ocean since I was really young, and the Engineering Academy has added to my interest because it shows how technology affects all aspects of life,” said Lindheim-Marx. “I’m also interested in doing this trip because it will help me decide whether I want to go into a career of oceanography and marine science, or if I want to go a different route.”
One of 30 teachers chosen nationwide from a pool of about 300, Standerfer will be on board for three weeks starting July 13, when the researchers are studying the effects of ocean acidification on the deep-sea cold-water corals. She’ll be manning the live feed, answering questions sent through the website, and translating the science into language that kids can understand. “I’m looking forward to taking what I’m doing on the ship back into the classroom — showing that ocean acidification is real and here is the data we gathered — and making that live connection for my students,” she said.
The kick-off event for the UCSB Marine Science Institute’s Summer of Ocean Exploration is the free Bob Ballard & Friends event at the Lobero Theatre on Wednesday, July 13, at 7 p.m. See msi.ucsb.edu for more details, and follow the mission every day at nautiluslive.org.