By Lori Lyn Lirio
THE Friends of the Mariana Trench or FOMT, in cooperation with the Marianas Visitors Authority and the Hotel Association of the Northern Marianas Islands or HANMI, is offering the community a glimpse of the Mariana Trench deep through 32-photo exhibition at the Hyatt Regency lobby.
The photo exhibition, which began with a ribbon-cutting ceremony last September 7, features the photographs that came from the deep-water exploration in December 2016, said Lauri Peterka, a FOMT member.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ship Okeanos Explorer conducted exploration missions through its remotely operated underwater vehicle.
The ROV Deep Discoverer, a robot, made daily dives from 250 to 6,000 meters and provided live video feedback to scientists aboard the ship.
“We conversed with NOAA and they agreed that we could use some of their still-photos. We asked the MVA and HANMI to help us fund the project,” she said.
According to Peterka, the exhibition would circulate for a minimum of 24 months and all HANMI-member hotels would host the exhibition each month.
“They would rotate from one hotel lobby to another.”
“We do not have museum here that is about science in the CNMI. The challenge is where we will put the exhibit. The idea came to us that each hotel lobby idea came to me that each hotel lobby provide exhibit space for just a short time so everybody – tourists or local – could see it,” Peterka said.
For 24 months, Peterka said, the MVA will help control of the project.
“Then the photographs would have to be retired to a public space, whether at the airport or library or someplace where people will see it. They could also put it on loan to other groups. The community may borrow the exhibits for educational purposes need,” she said.
She said other establishments for exhibits may borrow it from the MVA at the end of 24 months.
“If there are schools that are interested, we can work with schools.”
“The goal of the exhibit is multi-faceted,” Peterka said.
“First and foremost, we have no way of capturing the Marianas Trench. The first inspiration was we needed a way to touch the Marianas Trench because everyone is asking ‘where do we see the Marianas Trench?’ We have been waiting for the federal government to do something about the visitors’ center and it has not happening. We have been waiting for nine years,” she said, adding that they take it upon themselves not to wait for anybody by doing a way to make people see the Marianas Trench.
She added the materials would also be useful in public education.
“There are new species that discovered on this voyage that have never seen before and that they have yet to be named.”
HANMI President Gloria Cavanaugh said the Hyatt Regency Saipan will have the Mariana Trench exhibition for the entire month and Fiesta Resort & Spa will host the same the following month.
“We do have tourists that before they travel here they look and study the area, especially the divers. They want to know what Saipan has that makes it special. They always asked about the Marianas Trench,” Cavanaugh said.
“The photos on display could actually bring what people are reading into something that they can’t actually see and touch. Obviously, you can’t go down 37,000 feet. This is something that brings it more into life.”
According to Cavanaugh they are still working on the exhibition schedules on 12 HANMI-member hotels.
“We want to do the Garapan core first because that would capture a lot of people and a lot of locals and schools to see this project,” Cavanaugh said.