Exploring deep ocean hydrothermals
Meet ocean scientist and artist, Moronke Harris
February 10, 2023

More than 1,000 metres below the ocean’s surface where seawater meets magma, underwater volcanoes erupt producing hot springs known as hydrothermal vents. Here exists a world that survives and thrives in the absence of sunlight. University of Victoria (UVic) oceanography PhD student Moronke Harris studies microbial communities around these hydrothermal vents and their eroding mineral deposits.

“The most fascinating part of my work is the rarity, the uniqueness of location, and the potential for discovery. Thousands of metres under the ocean’s surface we explore areas of the Earth few have seen, and contribute to the discovery of our ‘final frontier’.” –Moronke Harris, UVic Oceanography PhD student

Together with her graduate supervisor Dr. S. Kim Juniper, Harris uses data from Ocean Networks Canada’s (ONC) large regional underwater cabled observatory NEPTUNE (North East Pacific Time-series Undersea Networked Experiments) to study the Endeavour Hydrothermal Vents off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Juniper is Chief Scientist at ONC and professor with UVic’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences.

Moronke Harris aboard E/V Nautilus (cruise NA129) during the annual servicing of the ONC NEPTUNE network. Credit: Nova West (E/V Nautilus Documentarian)

Harris’s research will inform discussions about the impacts of deep sea mining at hydrothermal sites in light of the interest in the resource potential of microbial biopharmaceuticals. She is also a strong advocate for science communications and outreach and the role both play in supporting science-based solutions for sustainable ocean conservation strategies.

“Environmental appreciation goes beyond believing that our planet is beautiful; it means finding a purposeful way to make a difference. I hope to make a tangible difference through my outreach work.” –Harris

Harris is the founder of The Imaginative Scientist: a science communication brand blending traditional outreach and artistry to produce an audience-first approach that engages, invites, and inspires curiosity. She is also a speaker with the UVic Speakers Bureau Program and online community Women and Color. Versatile and dedicated, Harris has taught courses with UVic Continuing Studies, presented at numerous conferences, been featured on science podcasts, and is also a visual artist. Learn more about her work at

ONC, an initiative of UVic, operates world-leading ocean observatories that collect data on physical, chemical, biological and geological aspects of the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic oceans. These Internet-connected observatories support research on complex Earth processes in ways not previously possible, providing scientists, communities and decision-makers with access to free, open, continuous, long-time series data from anywhere in the world, in real-time.

Stay up to date with ONC
Ocean-Climate Building University of Victoria
#100, 2474 Arbutus Road, Victoria, BC, Canada, V8N 1V8 (250) 472-5400
Marine Technology Centre University of Victoria
#106, 9865 West Saanich Road, North Saanich, BC, Canada, V8L 5Y8 (250) 472-5400

@ 2024 Ocean Networks Canada. All rights reserved.