The  Abyss

​Michelle Ridgway

Alaskan Marine Ecologist

The Abyss— Going off the Deep End: Marine Research Explorations under Alaskan Seas

Join an Alaskan submersible pilot and marine ecologist on a deep sea adventure in the cold waters of the Arctic aboard a manned research submarine. Experience discovery of new and ancient species, vast canyons full of life, and learn more about Alaska's ocean foodweb in our modern climate through studies in ocean chemistry, zooplankton ecology, biodiversity and marine geology. Part of the 2017 National Evening of Science on Screen.

Film Synopsis

A civilian diving team is enlisted to search for a lost nuclear submarine and face danger while encountering an alien aquatic species.

When the USS Montana, a submarine carrying nuclear warheads, inexplicably collides into a sea wall and sinks to the bottom of the ocean, a deep-sea oil operation team is called upon to assist with the search and rescue. Led by Virgil “Bud” Brigman (Ed Harris), the drill team is partnered with a squad of Navy S.E.A.L.S. whose orders may not be as transparent as they seem. Bud’s hard-edged, estranged wife, Lindsey Brigman (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), is also brought on board to lend her expertise as the designer of the massive underwater drilling rig. Upon reaching the Montana, the divers encounter something out of this world, an apparently new species of aquatic life, which they dub “N.T.I’s,” or non-terrestrial intelligence. While the team of civilian divers views these life forms as the discovery of the century, S.E.A.L. team leader Lieutenant Hiram Coffey (Michael Biehn) sees only a threat that should be eliminated by any means necessary. However, the hurricane gathering strength on the water’s surface may prove to be the greatest adversary of all.

About the Speaker

Michelle Ridgway is an Alaskan marine ecologist and submersible pilot focused on characterizing flora and fauna in deep sea habitats, oceanography, and food web processes in Arctic and Subarctic waters. Ridgway has conducted research from shallow Southeast kelp beds to deep sea canyons for over 30 years using cutting edge technologies for in situ field studies. Her current projects include the application of NOAA multibeam and ROV technology to map king crab juvenile habitat in the Bering Sea and the development of a three-dimensional biogeographical bathymetric database for Pribilof Domain shelf-slope-canyon marine ecosystem. She has studied the growth and reproduction of the rarest kelp on earth, Aureophycus aleuticus, in the marginal sea ice zone at St. George Island, was co-investigator in the discovery of the new beaked whale species Berardius 'beringiae' and the new deep sea opisthobranch, Boreoberthella. Ridgway has served on the US Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee, North Pacific Fishery Management Council, Alaska Marine Conservation Council, and multiple science advisory panels for the State of Alaska. She maintains affiliations with educational, tribal and fisheries organizations, as well as being the founder of the Alaska Deep Ocean Science Institute.