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November 7, 2011

Extreme deep sea environments exposed by UVic professor in public talk

by Arnica Rowan

Canada’s leading authority on extreme deep-water sea life will be in Vernon Nov. 17 to present a public lecture on what lies beneath our oceans as part of Okanagan College’s Science in Society speaker series.

Dr. Verena Tunnicliffe holds the Canada Research Chair in Deep Ocean Research, and is a University of Victoria professor in the departments of Biology & School Earth/Ocean Sciences. Her presentation will give the audience a lens on some of the undersea worlds she has visited through her more than 120 deep sea dives and hundreds of hours spent with seafloor remotely operated vehicles.

Event Poster

The lecture takes place Thursday, Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the College’s Kalamalka campus.

Tunnicliffe led the world’s first expedition to observe the hydrothermal vents off the west coast of Canada in 1983.

“The human species is limited by terrestrial adaptations and dependence on a few senses to understand our interactions with the environment,” Tunnicliffe said. “Penetration of the oceans by humans is difficult, and the lack of visual connectivity beneath the sea surface usually means ‘out of sight, out of mind’.”

The audience can expect to see imagery captured from various expeditions, including those to hot vents and subsea volcanoes – Canadian ecosystems seldom seem.

“Canada is a leader in development of subsea technologies that allow us to undertake such exploration,” Tunnicliffe said, “particularly when it comes to the use of submersible, remotely operated vehicles and subsea observatories”.

Tunnicliffe holds a Ph.D. from Yale University and is the author of many influential scientific publications and a children’s book, Kira’s Undersea Garden.  She is a member of the Royal Society of Canada and is awardee of both the NRC Steacie Prize and the British Columbia Innovation Council’s Frontiers in Exploration prize.

The Science in Society Speaker Series (a joint project by Okanagan Science Centre and the Okanagan College) is sponsored by the Best Western Vernon Lodge, Starbucks Coffee, Sweet Caroline’s Bakery, and the Vernon Morning Star.

Admission is $5 in advance or $7 at the door. For advanced tickets and more information, visit the Okanagan Science Centre at or call (250) 545-3644. 

For more information, contact:

Carl Doige, Okanagan College (250) 545-7291 ext. 2286

Sandi Dixon, Okanagan Science Centre (250) 545-3644

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