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Students compete to join deep-sea research around Catalina Island on submarine

August 27, 2010 |  4:15 pm


Southern California high school students are competing for a chance to participate in deep-sea research missions around Santa Catalina Island aboard the Antipodes: an acrylic-bubbled submarine that will descend to where no one has gone before.

Eight students, including two from Santa Catalina Island, will be selected to assist scientists as they evaluate food webs, topographies, rare species and unexplored shipwrecks down to 900 feet.

To be considered, students must submit their own proposed research projects and have permission to be absent from the classroom for a full week in October in order to receive special training.

Youths prone to anxiety attacks and claustrophobia may are advised against traveling inside the 7-ton Antipodes, which seats five people including the pilot. Strong swimming skills are a plus.

"These depths have literally not been explored, so we expect to discover new species and see some rare ones such as sixgill sharks -- primordial, almost dinosaur-level creatures," said Frank Hein, education manager for the Santa Catalina Island Conservancy. "For kids, this will be a life-changer."

Applications are available at The application deadline is 5 p.m. on Sept. 6.

The submarine adventures around Santa Catalina Island, roughly 22 miles off the coast of Southern California, are part of the Undersea Voyager Project, a nonprofit organization established a year ago by marine explorer Scott Cassell to survey 27,000 miles of ocean at depths between 100 and 1,000 feet over the next five years.

-- Louis Sahagun