Discovering the Deep: Exploring Remote Pacific MPAs

On March 25th, the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer wrapped up an exciting cruise to explore the depths of remote Pacific Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). As scientists collected data and made discoveries over the course of the expedition’s 19 dives, the remotely operated vehicles collected amazing images of life in the deep ocean.

Bathymetric map of the seamounts and submerged reefs within the Phoenix Islands Protected Area. Several of these reefs and seamount were explored during the most recent expedition.

MPAs like the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, where most of this expedition’s dives took place, are managed by different levels of government to help sustain healthy marine ecosystems. The establishment of MPAs comes from the recognition that the ocean is an important cultural, economic, and ecological resource. Deep-water exploration expeditions like this one are vital to help scientists and policy makers understand these hard-to-reach areas. Underwater exploration teaches us why these rarely seen areas are important, and what can be done to protect them.

All images courtesy of NOAA Office of Exploration and Research

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