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NWCC instructor aboard deep sea research vessel


September, 9, 2015--A Northwest Community College University Credit science instructor is on an adventure of a lifetime as part of a team of scientists, engineers, students and educators aboard a research vessel. The team is installing and maintaining the Ocean Networks Canada observatory that reaches up to 300 km off the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Pouyan Mahboubi is aboard the R/V Thompson, a University of Washington research vessel equipped with the latest high tech ocean instrumentation and the Woods Hole Oceanographic’s robotic vehicle called Jason, that has the ability to dive up to 6,000 metres below the ocean’s surface.

Mahboubi is one of two educators participating in the two-week research mission lead by Ocean Networks Canada (ONC). ONC is a University of Victoria initiative that manages the worlds most advanced cabled ocean observatories off the west coast of British Columbia and in the Arctic for the advancement of science and the benefit of Canada. The observatories supply continuous power and Internet connectivity to a broad suite of subsea instruments and collect data that sheds light on everything from deep sea animal life to marine biology, geology, and earthquakes and tsunamis.

The RV Thomson boasts a team of 36 scientists and a crew of 23 people and will be in service from Sept. 3-15.

Having an opportunity to get his hands on the most current instruments used for marine research purposes was an opportunity Mahboubi just couldn’t pass up.

“It’s one of those opportunities of a lifetime,” says Mahboubi. “What they have got out there is the foremost technology on ocean research…it’s way up there in terms of what’s going on in the world in terms of understanding the marine eco-systems. These are the best researchers and the best scientists.”

The trip will see the ship navigate 300 km off of Vancouver Island’s west coast, to a deep sea thermal vent and research node called the Endeavour. It’s where Mahboubi will have an opportunity to see data collected first hand from an area that is unique because of its location so far beneath the ocean.

With little light reaching so far beneath the waves, entirely different types of life exist at that depth – some that researchers are only now learning about with each visit to the station.

While on the research trip, thanks to ONC’s program called Ship-to-Shore which invites educators to come aboard when space is available, Mahboubi will gain a valuable perspective that he intends to bring back to his Applied Coastal Ecology classrooms.

Mahboubi is currently working on developing a new course for NWCC’s Applied Coastal Ecology program which will focus on the use of high tech equipment and its use in advanced marine study. David Riddell, ONC’s Education Coordinator, is helping develop the program.

“Pouyan will be assisting with some of the operations on board,” Riddell says. “In our spare time, Pouyan and I will be working together on developing the Instrument Technology Course.”

Equipped with the latest in satellite technology, Mahboubi will be sending YouTube updates from the research vessel and is hoping he will be able to connect with students in Prince Rupert while on the research vessel. 

Mahboubi hopes that the trip will also enable him to educate people about marine issues off BC’s coast.

“I want to draw attention to the north and what we have to offer,” says Mahboubi. “We are the two educators on board and I want to contextualize it and draw attention to northern issues.”

For more on this expedition go to:

To see Mahboubi's video blogs click here.


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