Spotlight: A Golden Age of Ocean Exploration

You’re living in a golden age in deep sea exploration. There have been myriad deep-sea explorations underway this year, from NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer’s  expeditions in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans to EV/Nautilus‘ seafloor mapping and exploration in the Pacific Ocean.

And thanks to the wonders of modern technology, you can tune in and watch much of this exploration on your computer. And even stream them onto your smart TV.

NOAA’s Okeanos is doing daily live-dives in the Musicians’ Seamount through September 30. Tune in!

And also through September 30, the E/V Nautilus, a project of the Ocean Exploration Trust, is conducting a seafloor mapping expedition in the Pacific Ocean, between the Pacific Northwest and San Pedro, California, focusing on areas within the US Exclusive Economic zone. Tune in here! Click that link to also see the calendar of future EV/Nautilus explorations.

Just one thing the E/V Nautilus crew saw in an expedition earlier this years – a mysterious purple orb:

Using modern tech including microCT scanning and RNA sequencing, the E/V Nautilus team identified this as “very likely” a new species of velutinid.

Every one of these ocean exploration forays is likely to see mysterious creatures, and indeed, new species. NOAA Okeanos’ recently saw this seastar, which starfish expert

seastar-@echinoblog-Okeanos musicians 2017-09-22

Christopher Mah says is “likely a new species.”

And you can check out news and photos from their past expeditions – it’s a wealth of discovery:

10 greatest sightings, so far, from NOAA’s exploration of the deepwater Pacific

jellyfish-NOAA Okeanos-Musicians Seamount 2017

Spotlight: Okeanos Explores the Deep Pacific … & You Can Too

This is really cool stuff, folks!

The NOAA research vessel Okeanos is exploring the deep sea in the remote Pacific Ocean this month, and they’re livestreaming it nearly every day. You, too, can explore the deep sea; just click here to livestream at your desk any day through March 29!

AA-Okeanos-flower star_RBrittin
screengrab by R Brittin

In this expedition, NOAA researchers are collecting “critical baseline information about unknown and poorly known deepwater areas in the Howland and Baker Unit of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument and the Phoenix Islands Protected Area.”

The ROV dives are planned, weather permitting, most days through March 27, typically from about 8 am to 5 pm WST (March 7 – March 26, from 2 pm to 11 pm EDT).

Here are some snaps from dives earlier this week. The first three are courtesy Rachel Brittin; the rest were screen-grabbed by us.

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Check out what they’ve found on past expeditions – but a warning – this can be addictive!

NOAA Okeanos past explorations photos, videos, information.

Pic o’ the week – ‘sea toad’

A sea toad hanging out, waiting for its next meal to swim by.
A sea toad hanging out, waiting for its next meal to swim by.

NOAA’s exploration vessel Okeanos Explorer recently ventured around the Wake Atoll Unit of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Researchers spotted and sampled deep sea life, from anemones to corals to seastars. And they came across this cherubic-seeming fish, hanging out …..

To conduct their deep-water research, researchers use telepresence technology to transmit data in real-time to a shore-based team of scientists who actively participate in the expedition.

This toad fish was found while researchers were exploring the depths of the Kwajalein Atoll, which is one of the world’s largest atolls. The lagoon inside the atoll covers over 800 square miles.

“As far as we know there’s only one species across the Pacific that looks like this. This is a sea toad or coffin fish. It’s in the same order as the anglerfishes and frog fishes…” comments a NOAA researcher on an expedition video — view it here.

And here’s a very entertaining video of this fish, narrated well by the Okeanos researchers – worth watching!

Photo and video courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Deepwater Wonders of Wake.

Pic o’ the week – unidentified deep sea fish

This curious creature, seen in Indonesian waters in the Sangihe Talaud Region, has not yet
been definitively identified by scientists.

The Little Hercules ROV captured this image of what scientists think is an anglerfish during dives from NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer in Indonesia. Scientists are working to further identify this creature and many others they encountered this summer during the INDEX 2010 Exploration – a joint expedition between American and Indonesian researchers.

As expedition coordinator Jeremy Potter wrote,

“We expect to make discoveries that will advance our understanding of undersea ecosystems, particularly those associated with submarine volcanoes and hydrothermal vents. The geographical area of operation is located entirely within the ‘Coral Triangle Region’, the global heart of shallow-water marine biodiversity. This will also be the first time scientists use a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to get even a glimpse of deepwater biodiversity in the waters of the Sangihe Talaud Region.”

The folks at NOAA also sent us this close-up photo, which shows this expedition’s remarkable photography capabilities:

Images courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, INDEX-SATAL 2010