Mike Brennan was just a kid in a stroller when he first came to the . Flash forward twenty years and that kid from Avon is now one of the leading scientists aboard the Sea Research Foundation’s E/V Nautilus, which just began its 2012 expedition.
“He was a kid in push-cart,” Dr. Robert Ballard, 70, said. “I meet him when he was 12 and part of the .”
Ballard and the Mystic Aquairum, which is part of the Sea Research Foundation, hope that the live feed to E/V Nautilus’s exploration and discoveries will inspire visitors to the Mystic Aquarium especially children to learn about science. Maybe they will even become the next Mike Brennans.
The E/V Nautilus launched its 2012 expedition on Wednesday, July 11. Ballard and his team of scientists, engineers, students and educators will spend the next 65 days exploring the waters of the Black, Aegean and Mediterranean Seas off the coasts of Turkey and Cyprus.
“It always excites me when I look for one thing and find something else,” Ballard said “Those are the moments of true discovery.”
For the past 13 years Ballard and his team have been exploring and discovering ancient cultural sites in the area. In persevered shipwreck that they will go back to look at this year. According to Ballard they have found a shipwreck about every 11 hours in the area. This, however, will be the last year they spend in the Black, Aegean and Mediterranean Seas.
“It’s time to move on, we’re explorers,” Ballard said.
After this year the ship will begin exploring other areas until reaching the Indian Ocean, which Ballard hopes will happen in 2015. He said he originally picked the Mediterranean Seas to explore because he thought he could be in the Northern Hemisphere for part of the year and then make it to the Indian Ocean for the other half, but that pirate activity outside of Somali had made that quicker route impossible.
“Having the ship armed was not a message I wanted to send,” Ballard said.
This year’s expedition began just a few days late because the Turkish Foreign Ministry asked Ballard and his team for help locating a Turkish Air Force jet that was reportedly shot down by Syrian air defense.
Ballard and the Mystic Aquarium hope to share the 2012 expedition with thousands of people through the Nautilus Live Theater at the Mystic Aquarium, through the www.nautiluslive.org, Facebook and Twitter. The live programs at the theater will run daily to September 1, 2012 with show times at 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. There is no additional charge to attend one of the shows.
Over the past two years the Mystic Aquarium estimated 50,000 people have come aboard the E/V Nautilus through the Nautilus Live Theater.
“I enjoy sharing my experiences at sea, and with this technology I don’t have to wait to come home and tell people about it,” Ballard said. “They can come aboard the ship and be there at the moment of discovery. Rather than read about findings, they can say. ‘I was there.’"