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Scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute invite you along Wednesday at 11 a.m. as they pilot a remote-control vehicle two-thirds of a mile below the surface off Big Sur in search of ancient sponges, deep-sea corals and other rare creatures.

Environment

WATCH: Explore the depths of the ocean as MBARI researchers undertake expedition

Scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute took people on an exploration of the ocean floor Wednesday as they piloted a remote-control vehicle two-thirds of a mile below the surface off Big Sur in search of ancient sponges, deep-sea corals and other rare creatures.

Looking for staycation options? How about a trip to the briny deep, courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute?

For the first time Wednesday, MBARI hosted a public livestream of an expedition to the deep sea. Late Wednesday morning, viewers watched as scientists guided a remotely operated vehicle to the Sur Ridge, a rocky protrusion about two-thirds of a mile, or 1,200 meters, below the surface off the coast of Big Sur.

Ancient sponges and deep-sea corals are among the rarely glimpsed creatures scientists were hoping to see.

“We all know about the coral reefs that exist in the Caribbean, in warm, shallow waters, but these deep-sea corals are quite fascinating,” said Hannah MacDonald, a science communicator hosted the program. “They’re kind of like the old-growth forests of the sea, they’re really, really old and they’re really deep — about two-thirds of a mile down.”

MBARI scientists have been observing Sur Ridge for many years, which is rare in the field. They have been able “to kind of get a sense of the environment over time, rather than a lot of other deep-sea exploration initiatives, they just visit once,” MacDonald said. “So we’re starting to really understand the dynamics that take place in deep-sea environments.”

The vehicle the scientists used to explore Sur Ridge was controlled from a research vessel on the surface, the Western Flyer. The program featured interviews with scientists and technicians onboard the ship as well as scientists participating in the exploration from the shore.