~ M I S S I O N ~

Off the shore of New Zealand lies a maze of mystery: Kaikoura Canyon. A scarcely explored system of deep-sea trenches, Kaikoura shelters a rich variety of marine flora and fauna, including some that produce natural anticarcinogens. Sperm whales feast in Kaikoura’s waters, and their menu includes a creature that has haunted literary imaginations from Herman Melville to Jules Verne to Peter Benchley: the giant squid.

Now scientists are probing this extraordinary ecosystem. An international expedition, supported in part by the National Geographic Society, arrived at Kaikoura in early February. A painstaking survey of the deep-sea canyon is underway. Clyde Roper, an invertebrate zoologist for the Smithsonian Institution, serves as senior scientist. He is collaborating with principal research engineer James Bellingham of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Bellingham’s Odyssey, an autonomous underwater vehicle, will scout the depths, gathering data and video. The vehicle has been deployed to Kaikoura with the support of the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research.

Working with them is underwater photographer Emory Kristof, a NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC veteran. Kristof photographed the Titanic and recorded the first human encounter with deep-sea sharks. His images will help unveil the mysteries of Kaikoura Canyon.

Kristof has developed “Ropecam,” a mechanism for recording video as deep as 6,000 feet (1,830 meters). It is capturing invaluable images for the expedition team. The scientists hope both to find new life-forms and to gain richer insight into predators such as the sperm whale. Careful observation of sperm whales, in fact, may lead to a sighting of the giant squid, which has yet to be observed in its habitat. The elusive creature can reach 60 feet (18 meters) in length.

~ C O M E  A B O A R D ! ~

Writer Tom Allen is charting the expedition for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine and nationalgeographic.com. Photographs by Maria Stenzel will complement Kristof’s images. National Geographic Television has also dispatched a crew of its own, led by producer John Rubin.

Joining them is Web designer Brad Johnson, on location to design and transmit their dispatches from the waves. These firsthand accounts—observations, pictures, interview bites—will let you follow this exciting expedition

~ I N T E R N A T I O N A L  E X P E R T I S E ~

The Kaikoura Canyon expedition draws on talent from around the world. The team includes scientists and technical experts from the following institutions:

MIT’s Sea Grant Program AUV Laboratory
New England Aquarium
Cornell University’s Bioacoustics Laboratory
University of California at Los Angeles
Texas A&M University Department of Marine Biology
Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute
New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research
Whale Watch Kaikoura
Edward Percival Field Station
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution

~ G L O B A L  G E N E R O S I T Y ~

Support for the expedition has come from the following sources:

National Geographic Television
Smithsonian Institution
U.S. Office of Naval Research
National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration
International Paper Company’s New Zealand subsidiary Carter Holt Harvey
Private donations


© 1997 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved.