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Deep sea expedition dives into Perth canyon

19 February 2015

Research vessel RV Falkor

A group of acclaimed scientists from The University of Western Australia's Oceans Institute will go where few others have gone before when they set out to unlock the secrets of a deep ocean canyon off Perth the size of the USA's Grand Canyon.

A UWA team headed by Professor Malcolm McCulloch, together with researchers from the Western Australian Museum, CSIRO and the Institute of Marine Sciences in Italy, will be among the first to explore life in the vast Perth Canyon, about 50km off Fremantle.

The underwater canyon formed over tens of millions of years and extends from the continental shelf edge of Western Australia to depths of more than four kilometres to the abyssal sea floor.  Major up-swelling of essential nutrients in the canyon makes it a global marine hotspot, attracting blue whales and other large fauna that migrate to the waters seasonally to feed.  Despite being so close to Perth and Fremantle, little is known about life in its deep abyss.

Professor McCulloch and his team will lead the research expedition on board the Schmidt Ocean Institute's Research Vessel, R/V Falkor, during a 12-day trip departing on Sunday, 1 March.

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