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).
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 November 28 to December 5, 2016, the Inner Space Center (ISC) supported a science verification cruise for the R/V Sally Ride, one of two, new vessels in the U.S. Academic Research Fleet. These short cruises are intended to test the ship, crew, and science systems to make sure that all are in proper working order before the ship departs for its first research expedition. The Sally Ride was named after the late Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, who was part of the space shuttle Challenger crew in 1983.
The ISC team tested the ship’s capabilities to support the Jason remotely operated vehicle (ROV) system as well as ship-to-shore telepresence technologies and protocols that will enable shore-based participation during ROV dives. Director of the ISC, Dr. Dwight Coleman, installed a mobile telepresence unit (MTU) on board. This unit allows for any ship to have telepresence capabilities.
During the cruise, ROV Jason was used for a variety of exploration activities. Geophysicist, Dr. Mark Zumberge, and his group from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, used Jason to attach geophysical sensors to the sea floor. Dr. Lisa Levin, also from Scripps, used the ROV system to continue biological survey of the seafloor around the Del Mar methane seep near San Diego, CA.
Along with ROV operations, the R/V Sally Ride was able to connect to the Birch Aquarium. Amanda Netburn, Bruce Applegate, and Dwight Coleman hosted live broadcasts to the aquarium’s new Sally Ride exhibit.
How little is known about our ocean is a fact many agree on, however scientists are actively working to bridge the gap between the unknown and discovery. Right now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Exploration and Research (NOAA OER) began the third cruise of their current research expedition. Aboard the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer with remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) Deep Discoverer and Seirios, scientists are well on their way to meeting their goals for this trip. The area undergoing daily exploration is the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and the Marianas Trench National Monument (MTMNM) in the western Pacific. The latter area is under NOAA’s protection, based on inferences that there may be unique features within its depths. Gathering baseline data and learning more about what these areas contain will enable effective conservation initiatives.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a world-class research and exploration vessel called the Okeanos Explorer. She’s a beautiful ship with some brand-new gear to send us high-def video and audio from the bottom of the ocean. Continue reading NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Overview
Welcome to the second installment of the Inner Space Center’s ‘Wreck-ollections’, wherein we take a closer look at some of the fascinating shipwrecks we’ve visited or re-discovered. This season has found us diving on a series of historical wrecks from WWII, and so we will go back to the beginning of the summer, to the wreck of U-boat 166. Continue reading Wreck-ollections: U-Boat 166
In this Moment Of Discovery, the E/V Nautilus crew discovers an acorn worm on the sea floor. Acorn worms are actually in their own scientific class, and are very interesting animals to observe in the wild.
Video copyright Ocean Exploration Trust.