Bob Ballard, the Great Explorer - Oceana USA
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December 1, 2009

Bob Ballard, the Great Explorer


If you tuned into “60 Minutes” this past Sunday, you had the pleasure of watching a two-part report on Dr. Robert Ballard and his lifetime of undersea exploration. What is Bob Ballard’s story, you ask?

Underwater adventure? Check. Mysterious shipwrecks? Check. Secret missions for the U.S. Navy? Check. Unknown creatures from the deep? Check. What doesn’t this story have!?

Ballard discovered the wrecks of the Bismarck and Titanic as well as a species of tube worm surviving at the bottom of the ocean, living off the energy provided by thermal vents.

I first heard of Ballard when I was in middle school and I was enamored with the television series SeaQuest. He was their technical advisor and was behind much of the science in the show (I am pretty sure I just outed myself as a giant nerd).

Ballard has dedicated his entire life to finding out what is beneath the surface of the ocean. He has discovered hundreds of shipwrecks, but he is most proud of his tube worm discovery. This find, off the coast of the Galapagos Islands, rocked the science world. It made scientists reevaluate how life can form. These organisms evolved without the benefit of sunlight. They evolved in the dark on the ocean floor. It was kind of a sucker punch to photosynthesis.

And, believe it or not, is he stumbled upon it accidentally. Of the massive area of this planet covered by ocean, Ballard and his team discovered these organisms by accident. Image what else could be out there waiting to be discovered on the ocean floor.

If my meager write up does not make you want to learn more about Robert Ballard and his work, just check out The Great Explorer for yourself, and watch his Ted Talk: