EV Nautilus Expedition for Possible New Marine Sanctuary in Pacific
Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) and partners set sail September 1 from Honolulu aboard EV Nautilus for a 28-day-long expedition to explore unseen deep-sea habitats of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM), focusing on the northwestern extent of the monument, over 1,000 miles north of Honolulu. This expedition, Ala ʻAumoana Kai Uli, is funded by NOAA Ocean Exploration via the NOAA Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute.
Thanks to the ship’s advanced telepresence technology, community audiences can join the team livestreaming ROV dives and seafloor mapping data collection around the clock, with interactive opportunities to meet and learn from explorers at NautilusLive.org.
Although baseline knowledge of deepwater biodiversity and biocultural resources is expanding, large areas remain completely unexplored. PMNM is the largest contiguous fully protected conservation area under the U.S. flag and one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world. In total, it covers over 1.5 million sq. km (582,578 sq. mi.), comparable to the size of the Gulf of Mexico and larger than all U.S. national parks combined.
The expedition will visit deep-ocean seamounts to gather data urgently needed to address the co-management and science needs of PMNM, including a better understanding of the patterns of species distributions and the formation and geologic history of ancient seamount chains. The OET data become publicly accessible to enable follow-on exploration, research, cultural interpretation, and management activities to better understand and care for the ocean. While the expedition’s main focus will be the geology and biology of unexplored underwater mountains, the operating area includes several historically significant shipwrecks associated with the Battle of Midway.
Information about the deep ocean in Papahānaumokuākea is critical as the region is being considered for designation as a new national marine sanctuary.