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VIDEO: Huge surprise

Marine biologists rely on remotely operated underwater vehicles, more commonly referred to as ROVs, now more than ever.

What they encounter in the big blue is sometimes surprising.

A crew from Nautilus, the deep-sea exploration group founded by Robert Ballard of Titanic fame, was diving an ROV almost 3,000 feet in the Gulf of Mexico, measuring natural hydrocarbon seeps as they bubble out of the seafloor.

Then this happened.

At just under 2,000 feet, off the coast of Louisiana, ROV Hercules encountered a magnificent sperm whale.

“The whale circled Hercules several times and gave our cameras the chance to capture some incredible footage of this beautiful creature,” the group said in the video posting. “Encounters between sperm whales and ROVs are incredibly rare.”

The enthusiastic radio chatter among the team members is a little distracting, but it’s understandable, given the breathtaking sight.

E/V Nautilus is exploring the ocean, studying biology, geology, archaeology, and more. Watch for live video from the ocean floor.

For live dive updates, follow along on social media at and on Twitter.

More photos from the dives are available at Instagram @nautiluslive.