The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has revealed a range of virtual reality dives that help inspire people while health officials are trying to limit the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. There are several VR tours available from various regions, including American Samoa, the Florida Keys, Flower Garden Banks in the Gulf Coast of Texas, Georiga’s Gray’s Reef, California’s Monterey Bay, the Olympic Coast in Washington state, Stellwagen Bank in Maine, and Michigan’s Thunder Bay. This is what we found exploring NOAA’s deep-sea dives.
Exploring NOAA’s Deep-sea Dives
These tours included images that highlight exotic sea life like urchins and starfish, as well as coral and rock formations. These dives can be seen while sitting at home using computers, tablets, or smartphones and using VR headsets or goggles.
American Samoa: Bleached Coral in Airport Pool
You might have seen many corals in the VR gallery, but the seabeds in America Samoa’s Airport Pool is something else, due to an extensive coral bleaching event in 2015. “The staghorn coral population in this area suffered massive mortalities during the 2015 bleaching event,” NOAA says.
The bleaching event was the outcome of continued, high water temperatures, which emphasized the corals to the intent of discharging their symbiotic algae, which is what provides wholesome coral their color.
“Once the algae are expelled, the corals’ white calcium carbonate skeleton is visible through the transparent coral tissue, giving it this “bleached” appearance,” NOAA says.
Florida Keys: Christ of the Abyss
Florida’s “Christ of the Abyss” is a famous, 3-meter-tall bronze sculpture that was dropped into the keys in August 1965. Over the years it has shifted into a home for plants, fish, and invertebrates — all of which have given the art composition and color.
Florida Keys: The World’s only underwater Research Observatory
Here’s an image of the Aquarius Reef Base, the world’s only underwater research laboratory. Explorers from around the world use the space to make explorations, experiment with new technologies, and train for future experiments.
Flower Garden Banks: A Lionfish Passing Through
In 2016, continued and raised water temperatures started a bleaching event, which can be observed in this picture. You can also see a lionfish passing through. This stylish, decorative aquarium fish was possibly introduced into Caribbean waters by someone who no longer finds it necessary to worry about it. It has since become a dangerous, invasive species. A report advises the fish can kill up to 80 percent of local coral fish in a reef in as little as five weeks.
Gray’s Reef: Barrel Sponge
Barrel sponges are huge creatures that can have diameters up to 1.8 meters. They’re usually found in Gray’s Reef and throughout the Caribbean.
Monterey Bay: Sea Urchins Galore
Wherever you turn into this Monterey Bay dive you’ll find purple sea urchins. The species has undergone a population growth in the region recently by feasting on kelp forests that were once noticeable along the reefs.
Olympic Coast: A Sea of Diversity
Check out the variety of marine life on this overhanging wall in the Olympic Coast. In this image alone, you can see large plumose anemone, starfish, urchins, and barnacles.
Thunder Bay: Defiance Shipwreck
The Defiance lies at the depths of Lake Huron at a drop of 185 meters. It sank in 1854 after a collision the John J. Audubon, which also sank a few miles away.