13. Aug 2010 - 10:46Einar Ragnar Jónsson
Octopus, Paul Allen’s yacht, and Surtsey Island
Icelandic scientists, currently undergoing research about Surtsey’s aquatic deeps, have received permission to use the technology of Paul Allen on the Octopus, the world’s 8th largest luxury yacht; this includes two submarines, enabling them to research the oceanic environment.
Lovísa Ásbjörnsdóttir – an employee of the Environment Agency in Vestmannaeyjar Islands and specialist in the nature reserve, Surtsey – says in a conversation with Pressan that Icelandic scientists have received permission to dive near Surtsey.
Paul Allen, billionaire and co-founder of Microsoft, has offered scientists the use of the Octopus to aid their research at Surtsey. His yacht has received quite a bit of attention locally, as one can often see the yacht perched on Reykjavík harbor, bobbing up and down, an ironic symbol given the previous downgrade of the Icelandic economy.
Lovísa jubilantly tells us about the project: “This is a unique opportunity to dive much deeper near the banks of Surtsey than ever before.” In gratitude, Lovísa says, “This is in reality, a unique opportunity for Icelandic scientists to utilize Paul Allen’s devices.”
Lovísa says that the conditions of the excursion were numerous, emphasizing the need to guarantee that cautious measures were taken to prevent the flora and limited fauna of Surtsey, a volcanic island, from being damaged.
“He has two submarines, one is run by ten individuals and the other is remote-controlled,” she tells us, continuing, “I do not know which submarine will be used."
Permission has been received for a two-day cruise, she tells us, and the group will photograph and video-record Surtsey underwater.
After asking her whether or not Paul Allen would be joining them in the submarine, Lovísa says, “It can in itself be possible that he will be on board, but he will be a complete insignificant addition: Icelanders have, up until now, only been able to dive 30 to 40 meters below Surtsey.” She adds, “With the submarine, it is possible to reach the bottom of the ocean, albeit it will be ensured that the sedimentation does not shoot up.”
Lovísa confirms that the research materials will be made public, and it is possible to see them at the Marine Research Institute and the Icelandic Institute of Natural History.