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Florida Panthers Foundation Partners With Ocean Exploration Trust For Launch Of Nautilus Exploration Program And Public Educational Programs

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers

Sunrise, Fla – As part of a broad commitment to youth initiatives in Broward County and South Florida, the Florida Panthers Foundation has partnered with the Ocean Exploration Trust and famed oceanographer Dr. Robert Ballard’s Exploration Vessel Nautilus for the 2014 exploration season. The Florida Panthers Foundation will donate to the Ocean Exploration Trust to help fund Nautilus’ upcoming voyage throughout the Florida Straits, Gulf Coast, and Caribbean at an event on Monday, June 9, at Port Everglades.

Nautilus will depart from Port Everglades on June 11. Through the use of advanced telepresence technology, students, educators, and members of the public will be able to join the Nautilus team as members of the expanded Corps of Exploration. They will be able to watch real-time action in high definition streaming video and participate in live interactions with shore-based audiences via, a 24-hour portal bringing expeditions from the field to future explorers on shore, beginning June 11.

“Sharing the excitement of the moment of discovery with the public is a key part of our mission,” said OET Executive Vice President, Dr. Katy Croff Bell. “Our program exists to use the excitement of exploration to inspire and motivate the next generation of scientists and engineers, by bringing our expedition directly to schools, museums, homes, and mobile devices. We are thrilled to work with the Panthers Foundation to use that excitement to build our first Community of Exploration & Education in the country.”

“The Florida Panthers Foundation and the entire Panthers organization are privileged to partner with and support Dr. Ballard, Nautilus, and the Ocean Exploration Trust as part of these innovative and collaborative programs for the children of Broward County and South Florida,” said Panthers CEO & President Rory Babich.

Nautilus was donated to the Ocean Exploration Trust by Florida Panthers owner Vinnie Viola, who purchased the decommissioned 212-foot ship and donated it to Dr. Ballard and OET for conversion into a premier exploration vessel that will also benefit youth education in the U.S.

“Vinnie Viola is an amazing American and patriot who is committed to helping our youth strive to reach their goals in life whatever they may be,” said OET President, Dr. Ballard. “Thanks to Vinnie, his wife Teresa, and the Florida Panthers Foundation, we will be able to reach tens of thousands of students and teachers across Broward County and South Florida, including some who may be selected to sail on Nautilus each year, serving as role models and mentors in our Corps of Exploration.”

A former United States Naval Officer, Dr. Ballard is a National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence and a Professor of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island. He is most widely known for his discovery of the RMS Titanic in 1985. On Feb. 6, 2013, Dr. Ballard spoke to a large audience at BB&T Center about the Nautilus mission and youth education prior to the Panthers’ home game that evening.

OET and Nautilus will host an invitation-only event on June 9 at Port Everglades from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Media availability with Dr. Ballard will be held from 1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. The event will also feature tours of Nautilus for local school groups, educators and media members.

About the Florida Panthers Foundation

One of the primary missions of the Florida Panthers Foundation is to build a better future for the children of South Florida. Through philanthropic partnerships, grants, donations and community outreach programs, the Foundation maintains a focus on children’s health, fitness, education and cultural needs.

About the Ocean Exploration Trust

The Ocean Exploration Trust was founded in 2008 by Dr. Robert Ballard. Our international program centers on scientific exploration of the seafloor launched from aboard the Exploration Vessel Nautilus, a 64-meter research vessel. In addition to conducting scientific exploration, the Nautilus Exploration Program offers telepresence to explorers on shore via live video, audio, and data feeds from our ships. The program also includes an education component that brings educators and students on oceanographic expeditions. The 2014 expedition sponsors are the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Bechtel, the Viola and Panthers Foundations, Alcoa Foundation, Sea Research Foundation, Office of Naval Research, the National Geographic Society, University of Rhode Island, and additional private donors.

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