New Year, New Field Season!

The NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer‘s 2017 field season will kick off January 18, 2017, with a mapping expedition from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Pago Pago, American Samoa. This field season marks the third year of CAPSTONE, the Campaign to Address Pacific Monument Science, Technology, and Ocean Needs. The goal of which project is to collect data necessary to support science-based decision making for marine protected areas (MPAs) in the central and western Pacific.This year, the United States Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) will be working with numerous Pacific Island countries and territories to expand the international scope of the CAPSTONE effort in support of the network of large MPAs in the Pacific.

Under a team of ship and shore-based engineers, technicians, and scientists, the Okeanos Explorer will conduct multi-beam mapping and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) operations to explore the geology, biology, chemistry, and archaeology of managed areas around the Hawaiian Islands, Samoa, and American Samoa. Okeanos Explorer will live stream ROV dives on YouTube, and on the Okeanos Explorer website using telepresence technology, making it available for the general public and shore-based scientists.

Map of Pacific marine protected areas prior to the expansion of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Image courtesy of NOAA Fisheries Service, Marine National Monuments Program.

Below are the proposed expedition dates and activities:

January 18th – February 2nd: mapping of Kingman Reef/Palmyra Atoll, Jarvis Island, Phoenix Islands Protected Area, Tokelau, and Cook Islands.

February 16th – March 1st: mapping and ROV operations in American Samoa and Samoa, including mapping of the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa and of Rose Atoll Marine National Monument.

March 7th – March 29th: mapping and ROV operations in Tokelau, Phoenix Islands, and in Howland/Baker Islands.

April 4th – April 21st: mapping in American Samoa and Samoa, including mapping of the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa and of Rose Atoll Marine National Monument.

April 27th – May 19th: mapping and near-daily ROV dives in Cook Islands, Jarvis Island, and Kingman Reef/Palmyra Atoll.

A squat lobster found at Johnston Atoll during the 2015 CAPSTONE field effort. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2015 Hohonu Moana.

June 20th – July 8th: mapping in and around Johnston Atoll.

July 13th – August 3rd: mapping and ROV operations in and near Johnston Atoll.

August 9th – September 1st: mapping around Musician Seamounts, North of the Hawaiian Islands.

September 7th – September 29th: mapping and ROV operations around Musician Seamounts, North of the Hawaiian Islands.

Be sure to check for updates on the upcoming field season on the Okeanos Explorer Home Page, the Nautilus Live Homepage, the Inner Space Center website, and on our Facebook and Twitter pages!


Featured image courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Hohonu Moana.

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