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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 October 2007, 00:05 GMT 01:05 UK
Oceans lined with research cable
The ocean floor being drilled

The sea bed may already be strewn with a web of communication cables, but now marine scientists are laying hundreds of kilometres of their own.

Oceanographers are building a network off the US west coast that will feed instruments at the bottom of the sea.

It means they will be able to study the deep, in real time, from the comfort of their offices; data - including live images - brought straight to their PCs.

Currently, most underwater research relies on venturing out by boat.

John Delaney, University of Washington

"This is a mission to 'Planet Ocean'," said John Delaney, a professor at the University of Washington.

He is working on the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), one of many projects currently underway to unlock the underwater world.

"This is a Nasa-scale mission to basically enter the inner space, to be there perpetually."

The OOI plans to lay 1,300 km (800 miles) of cables to study the way tsunamis occur and how oceans regulate the planet's ecosystem.

The BBC's Peter Bowes has been to Seattle to meet him.

In these video reports (click on links above to watch), Professor Delaney demonstrates the technology that he believes will transform the way oceans are studied.

Underwater lab

Exploring the last frontier
23 Jul 07 |  Technology
Project will cable up ocean floor
13 Mar 07 |  Science/Nature

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