This weekend the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer visited Shostakovich Seamount, and began its “Water Column Wonderland” week. Check out some of the unique creatures that live beneath the sea with imagery captured by remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Deep Discoverer! Continue reading Weekend Discoveries
From August 18, 2017, to September 3, 2017, the E/V Nautilus will be exploring the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (NMS), located along the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state. The sanctuary encompasses 3,189 square miles (8,260 km2), an area equivalent to the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined. It extends 25 to 50 miles (40 to 80 km) from the shore, including most of the continental shelf, as well as three important submarine canyons: the Nitinat Canyon, the Quinault Canyon and the Juan de Fuca Canyon. The main objectives of this expedition are to explore and characterize seafloor resources and features associated with these submarine canyons. Quinault and Quileute Canyons have never been explored by remotely operated vehicle (ROV) or autonomous underwater vehicle ( AUV).
Another important expedition objective is to collect information about the ocean’s chemical and physical properties and associated biological communities. The Olympic Coast marks the northern reach of the California Current, which seasonally upwells deep, nutrient-rich waters nearshore. This process supports the sanctuary’s highly productive ecosystem. Twenty-nine species of marine mammals reside in or migrate through sanctuary waters; the area provides critical nesting habitat for numerous seabird species; and the region is also among the most productive fish-growing habitats in the world. However, due to ocean acidification (a continued decrease in the global ocean’s pH, caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere), the California Current is now also delivering low-pH, and often low-oxygen (hypoxic), waters to the region, which can negatively impact many marine species. The Olympic Coast NMS is thus considered a “sentinel site” for ocean acidification. Monitoring and research take place to enhance the understanding of natural and historical resources in the area and how they are changing, as well as provide and early warning capability to detect changes to the ecosystem itself.
In addition to its ecological richness, the Olympic Coast NMS sanctuary is also culturally and historically rich. Over 200 shipwrecks are documented in sanctuary waters! The Makah, Quileute, and Hoh Tribes, as well as Quinault Nation, all have strong, historical ties to the region. NOAA sanctuary staff work cooperatively with the tribes to strengthen sanctuary resources and respect the longstanding relationship of coastal Native Americans with the marine environment.
Live video from the Olympic Coast NMS expedition will be broadcast on the Nautilus Live and Inner Space Center websites. ROV dives should start August 19, 2017! For more information about this expedition and the Olympic Coast NMS, visit the Nautilus Live expedition webpage, and the Olympic Coast NMS website. And be sure to follow the ISC on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for more updates and discoveries from the E/V Nautilus and the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer! Explore with us!
During their 2015 Hohonu Moana expedition, the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer discovered and mapped an unnamed seamount in the Central Pacific Ocean Basin (shown in the image above). The ship and scientists are now returning to this region, “Musician Seamounts”, to conduct additional mapping and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) operations over two consecutive cruises. These efforts will be focused north of the Hawaiian Islands, close to the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM).
From August 8th through August 31st, 2017, the Okeanos Explorer will map the area using multibeam sonar technologies aboard the ship. Operations will start and end in Honolulu, HI. The additional mapping data will assist in better understanding the geologic history of the seafloor in the remote Pacific Ocean.
During the second cruise, from September 6th through September 30th, 2017, the ROVs Deep Discoverer and Seirios will explore the waters around the Musician Seamounts. By observing the marine habitat and organisms in this area, scientists hope to learn more about life in the Pacific Ocean Basin and the composition of the ocean ecosystem of this region.
Tune in LIVE to this expedition via footage streaming directly from the ship! Also be sure to follow the Inner Space Center on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for more updates and discoveries!
A February 2017 dive by the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer yielded an exciting discovery. Scientists spotted a live monoplacophoran, a rarely observed type of mollusc that is thought to be the closest living relative of the ancestors of modern day bivalves (e.g. clams and mussels) and gastropods (e.g. snails). Continue reading Living Fossil: Tiny mollusc makes big impression on marine biology world
The NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer has kicked off its 2017 field season so far with amazing dives in the waters off American Samoa, a US territory in the southern Pacific Ocean. In February 2017, the expedition team explored the Vailulu’u Seamount, an underwater volcano located east of the Samoan Island of Ta’u. This offered scientists a rare and exciting opportunity to observe the geological and ecological characteristics of an active underwater volcano. Continue reading A Rare Opportunity: Observing the life cycle of a young volcano
The NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer had an amazing dive March 9, 2017 on Pao Pao Seamount, an underwater mountain in the Tokelau Seamount Chain in the South Pacific. Continue reading The Scintillating Sea Life of Pao Pao Seamount
On December 7th, 2016, the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer dove on two Japanese mini-subs that sank 75 years earlier, during the attack on Pearl Harbor. The USS Ward fired the first shot of the Pacific War, sinking this submarine 90 minutes before the air raid on Pearl Harbor. This attack marked the introduction of the United States into World War 2. Highlights from the dives on these submarines can be viewed below:
More photos and illustrations of the mini-subs and the USS Ward are available on the National Marine Sanctuaries website.
Featured image: Conning tower of Pearl Harbor Mini Sub. Image courtesy of NOAA Office of Exploration and Research, 2017 Shakedown Cruise.
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. Continue reading New Year, New Field Season!