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20 September 2002

MBARI to host live deep-sea TV program

MOSS LANDING, California—Millons of viewers in the United Kingdom are expected to tune in to the British Broadcasting Corporation’s live television show hosted by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) on Sunday, September  29, 2002. Tracking MBARI’s remotely operated vehicle Tiburon as it dives more than a mile deep in Monterey Canyon, The Abyss—Live will broadcast live images and commentary on BBC Television’s primary channel BBC ONE and on the BBCi website. Viewers in the United States can see the live broadcast via the web on the 29th and a taped PBS Nature television feature scheduled for October 27.

Following the success of the BBC’s Blue Planet series in 2000, executive producer Alastair Fothergill planned The Abyss-Live as a true adventure, where the ending is not known, and anything can happen. Part of his inspiration came from watching the Exploring Monterey Canyon program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a daily show that features live video from MBARI ships and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), interpreted by aquarium experts.

Fothergill chose MBARI to host the live program because of our unique location, extensive ROV operational experience, and high-tech ship-to-shore video capabilities. Within an hour of leaving the dock, MBARI’s ships can be steaming over Monterey Canyon in water more than a mile deep. For 15 years, MBARI scientists and ROV pilots have probed the depths of this canyon, gaining experience and scientific knowledge that will prove invaluable during the BBC program.

BBC’s expedition with ROV Tiburon will be one of three deep-water dives broadcast during the program. Footage from pre-recorded dives on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the Cayman Wall will be interspersed with the live video from Tiburon in Monterey Bay. MBARI midwater ecologist Dr. Bruce Robison will lead the scientific exploration on the ship where program host Peter Snow of the BBC and U.S. presenter Mike DeGruy comment on the live action. Dr. George Matsumoto of MBARI and Dr. Randy Kochevar of the Monterey Bay Aquarium will be on hand during the broadcast to answer questions from viewers.

The live program can be seen on the Abyss—Live website on Sunday, September 29, from 7:00 am until noon Pacific Time. A taped highlights program for PBS Nature, currently titled "Dive into the Abyss," is scheduled to broadcast on Sunday, October 27.

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MBARI contact: Debbie Meyer, pressroom@mbari.org, 831-775-1807
BBC Natural History Unit: Gail McKenzie, 44 (117) 974-2231, gail.mckenzie@bbc.co.uk