SIDNEY, B.C. - Emperor Akihito of Japan quizzed Canadian marine scientists during a visit to the Institute of Ocean Sciences near Victoria today.

The Emperor and Empress Michiko spent the morning at the facility, where they were given a briefing on the Canadian-led Neptune project, the world's largest under sea observatory.

Japanese science and technology are part of the $100-million project, which will provide real-time, 24-hour Internet access to an 800-kilometre undersea section ocean life off Vancouver Island.

The Emperor, who has written books and research papers on marine-related topics, asked Neptune project scientist Rick Thompson if there were differences in the ocean nutrients between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

The Japanese royal couple is on a 12-day visit to Canada, which ends Tuesday.

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