A $60 million research vessel funded by a Google executive was scheduled to launch from the harbor in San Francisco on Thursday, to study a “dead zone” in the Pacific Ocean along with other unknowns in the sea.
The 272-foot research ship named Falkor, is complete with an unmanned submarine that has plans to travel deep into the ocean off Vancouver Island to study an area where seas life dies from hypoxia, a lack of oxygen.
Researchers hypothesize that the cause could be from the changing climate or caustic runoff. Scientist on the ship are provided with luxury amenities not found on the average research ship like a sauna and down-filled bunks, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
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"It may not be needed up here," Victor Zykov, the institute's director of research, told the newspaper about the sauna. "But when we're up in cold Canadian waters, the scientists and crew will surely appreciate it after a long day on deck."
The Schmidt Ocean Science Institute, which is co-founded by Google exec Eric Schmidt and his wife Wendy, funded the Falkor.
After stopping to study the dead zone, the ship and its crew will set sail to study the Axial Seamount, a submarine volcano roughly 300 miles west of Oregon.
“A microbiologist will study the tiny organisms living for millions of years inside fissures in the volcanic rock, and another scientist will study viruses that have adapted to the unique habitat,” according the San Francisco Chronicle.