ROV Hercules lighting up wreckage of German U-boat, U-166

Taking a Virtual Plunge With the E/V Nautilus

Education Featured Robotics

I’ve been following the E/V Nautilus and their live-streamed exploration from the depths of our oceans for the past couple of years. On June 8th, you’ll be able to connect live with the E/V Nautilus team. In honor of World Ocean Day, the Corps of Explorers team of scientists, researchers, and explorers will answer your questions submitted on

Utilizing deep sea Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs), “Nautilus Live and the Nautilus Exploration Program are operated by the non-profit organization Ocean Exploration Trust (OET), founded in 2008 by Dr. Robert Ballard to engage in pure ocean exploration. Our international programs center on scientific exploration of the seafloor, innovating new ways and technologies to conduct that exploration, and engaging and educating the next generation on the significance of STEM and ocean science.”

The E/V Nautilus, through their site, is able to explore the ocean to depths as great as 4,000 meters (13,123 feet). From their primary ROV Hercules, The Ocean Exploration Trust explores our oceans, while live-streaming to the rest of us. I have literally spent hours following these streams, both marveling in the expected encounters such as a return to the “Octopus Garden” on the Davidson Seamount off the coast of Monterey Bay; or the more unexpected finds such as a whale fall discovered by chance as the ROV travels between planned destinations.

Many purple octopus curled up on the seafloor bottom.
E/V Nautilus has visited the Octopus Gardens on Davidson Seamount a couple of times. It’s an amazing site. Photo Ocean Exploration Trust.


Skeletal remains of a whale on the floor of the ocean. Many creatures including octopi are feeding on the remains.
This Whale Fall near the Davidson Seamount Octopus gardens was an exciting find. I was obsessively watching their stream when they came across this! Photo Ocean Exploration Trust.

June 8 is World Oceans Day and this year, “For 2022 World Ocean Day is uniting conservation action to grow the global movement calling on world leaders to protect at least 30% of our blue planet by 2030. This critical need is called 30×30. By safeguarding at least 30% of our ocean through a network of highly protected areas we can help ensure a healthy climate and blue planet!”

The E/V Nautilus is currently surveying the seafloor of the Johnston Atoll Exclusive Economic Zone and on June 8, for World Oceans Day, they are hosting a live question and answer event that is intended to bring awareness to this endeavor through providing access to our ocean depths.

Nautilus Live inspired me to apply for a grant to obtain an ROV that I have utilized with one of my school district’s classes for the past two years. While operating from the shore and in much shallower waters than Hercules, our students operated the ROV to explore the ocean, while others operated a live stream, selecting the view being broadcast, and narrating what the ROV was seeing.

Main image showing seaweed on the ocean floor. Inset image of students at a table on the beach running a computer.
Students were able to select what was shown on the livestream. Here we see from the point of view of the ROV. The inset image is the station set up on the beach where the students ran the stream. Photo Ryan Hiller.

There’s so much more to say about E/V Nautilus, Oceans Exploration Trust, and founder Dr. Robert Ballard, such as finding the Titanic, financed by the U.S. Navy, in their mission to fine the whereabouts of sunken nuclear submarines; maybe I’ll cover more in later posts! Until then, visit to check out their World Oceans Day Q&A, catch other livestreams, or any of their archived footage, maybe you’ll get hooked too! 

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