PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Have you ever thought about how important ocean exploration is to our everyday lives? Some Jackson County students learned that lesson on board one of NOAA's premiere ships.
One by one, Resurrection High students walked aboard the Okeanos Explorer, curious to learn how the vessel and its technology can survey the ocean.
"I am responsible for all the electronics."
Richard Conway told the kids how the big ball on top of the ship can actually communicate what lies beneath.
"Inside the ball there is a big dish. We have a system call telepresence, and telepresence is how scientists onshore can see exactly what the ships are doing."
Next, the kids moved to the bridge of the ship, where Navigation Officer Matthew O'Leary showed off all the TVs and high tech computers that move the ship to and from missions safely.
"This is where all the magic happens," O'Leary told the group. "We don't go very fast. Ten or 11 knots is our max speed, which is roughly 10 or 11 miles an hour. We are extremely maneuverable; we are like a sports car."
This is the only federal vessel that is dedicated to exploring the ocean, and O'Leary said the ship has helped make some amazing discoveries.
"All of sudden there is an underwater volcano and, literally, hot gasses spewing out of the crater."
"I thought it was going to be boring, but it was interesting. I really like learning what they were talking about," a high school student said about the tour.
NOAA officials said they know the information on Tuesday's tour was a lot to soak up, but they wanted to encourage students to be good caretakers of the ocean.
"What I like to say is count with me your next two breaths, and we count one and two," Public Affairs Officer Fred Gorell said. "Then I explain to them that the ocean provided all of the oxygen in their first breath and some of the oxygen in their second breath, so we depend on the ocean for our life."
The Okeanos Explorer actually belonged to the NAVY before NOAA converted it into an exploration ship. To learn more about the ship and its educational expeditions, visit http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/okeanos/.