Watch Underwater Discovery Unfolding Live Now

National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Robert Ballard is once again at sea, broadcasting underwater exploration live from the deck of his ship of exploration, Nautilus.

Named for the futuristic submarine vessel in Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” Ballard’s Nautilus wanders the paths of the sea with an on-board team of technicians and researchers, and linked to other experts in facilities around the world, exploring underwater geology, recording unknown life forms, and locating famed wrecks of ships from bygone eras.

Best of all, it all shows up online as it happens.

Dr. Robert Ballard and team investigate a 500-foot anomaly on the bottom of the ocean. (Screengrab of

This morning, Monday, July 7, 2014, word came through that they were about to send the remote-operated-vehicles Argus and Hercules to investigate a 500-foot (152-meter) anomaly picked up by sonar months earlier by an oil survey in the Gulf of Mexico.

“I can’t wait,” Ballard said over the feed. “I’m like a kid.”

It could be a ship.

It could be a rock.

Time will tell, and you can be there when it does. Watch at and be part of the discovery.


Exploration lasting more than an hour revealed that the 500-foot mystery object is in fact a shipwreck. Emerging from the darkness, first scattered debris, then the telltale silhouette of a hull told the crew that this was certainly no rocky outcropping. Pulling from his extensive experience examining wrecks, Ballard directed the rovers to examine painted markings, huge platforms built on a superstructure, and other key features to aid in the identification of the ship’s purpose and time period.

Lack of deterioration and coral growth combined with the presence of a satellite dish made it clear the wreck had met its fate not too long ago.

Structures and identifying markers were used by the team and international online viewers to deduce that the wreck is that of the USS Peterson (DD-969), a destroyer commissioned in the 1970s and active till the early 2000s. Visit for more details, photos, and a highlight video!

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NG Explorer Dr. Robert Ballard



Changing Planet


Meet the Author
Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. In 2018 he became Communications Director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish. Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010. He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history. You can follow him on Twitter @anderhowl and on Instagram @andrewjhowley.