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Documentary film looks at life on the ocean floor off the coast of North Carolina

RALEIGH –Dive into the dark depths of the Atlantic Ocean, where deep-sea coral thrives and creates a diverse habitat that has been described as looking like "a land where Dr. Seuss went crazy." Come see this newly explored world for yourself when the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh premieres "Beneath the Blue" on Saturday, May 17 at 6 pm. Free. This stunning high-definition production transports you, via submersible, to the center of an ancient ecosystem that lives thousands of feet below the surface of the Gulf Stream waters. You will also hear unique details from scientists featured in the film, including Steve W. Ross, Associate Research Professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington Center for Marine Science; Martha S. Nizinski of the Smithsonian Institution's Systematics Laboratory; and Jeremy Potter, Ocean Exploration Expeditions Coordinator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. From 2002-05, N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences educators partnered with researchers from several agencies to study life on the continental shelf, an area of the ocean floor 60-100 miles off the North Carolina coast. With a 200-foot research vessel as their home base, these explorers would dive as deep as 3,000 feet below the water's surface inside a cramped submersible. Photographer Art Howard joined the team from 2003-05 to document the project as well as to capture images of the deep-sea inhabitants in their natural surroundings, a valuable tool in helping researchers understand relationships between species in this remote habitat. According to Liz Baird, the Museum's director of school programs and a four-time member of the deep-sea exploration team, "Beneath the Blue" plays a vital role in helping the Museum continue its mission of helping everyone understand our planet below the ocean's surface. "I can't bring everyone out to sea with me," Baird says. "But I've always wanted to help people feel like they are. Art Howard's incredible photography accomplishes that goal."