Ocean Exploration Trust Launches 2024 Expedition Season

(Image credit: Ocean Exploration Trust)

The Ocean Exploration Trust (OET)is excited to announce the start of the 2024 expedition season aboard Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus. Beginning in late May, OET will embark on one of our widest-ranging seasons ever, spending eight months exploring the Eastern, Central, and Western Pacific, mapping unsurveyed seafloor, and bringing new views of never-before-seen seafloor to the world. Anyone can join us in characterizing deep-sea habitats through detailed ROV observation and integrating emerging technologies to help accelerate the pace of learning about the ocean by watching in real-time at NautilusLive.org.

The goals of these expeditions are based on community input from scientists and resource managers as well as from local communities and stakeholders in the regions where the expeditions will take place. The 2024 E/V Nautilus expeditions are sponsored primarily by NOAA Ocean Exploration via the Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute (OECI), with additional support from Ocean Networks Canada, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the Office of Naval Research.

“The vast majority of the Earth’s seafloor and the quintillion gallons of ocean above it has never been scientifically explored, leaving large knowledge gaps that hinder our ability to manage the resources within our planet’s largest ecosystem effectively,” says Allison Fundis, Chief Operating Officer of the Ocean Exploration Trust. “While our 2024 Nautilus expeditions will contribute to the monumental effort of filling these gaps, using them as a way to inspire curiosity about the ocean and build a more inclusive ocean exploration community is also paramount to our mission.”

The 2024 expeditions in Hawaiʻi, American Samoa, US Pacific Remote Islands, Guam, Palau, and Canada will contribute to the oceans being better understood by supporting international scientific and US governmental priorities, particularly understanding ocean changes, sharing that knowledge with others and contributing new discoveries and data that will inform future conservation and resource management decisions. OET will also continue to advance our priorities of education, diversity, and inclusion by creating more opportunities and inclusive programs — both at sea and onshore — ensuring we include and amplify historically marginalized voices in the deep-sea exploration and STEAM communities.

Building upon decades of study, stewardship, and discoveries, OET remains committed to the open sharing of data collected during these expeditions. Mapping and ROV operations in unexplored areas will directly contribute to the US National Strategy for Ocean Mapping, Exploration, and Characterization, the Ocean Networks Canada Strategic Plan, the multi-national development of a global high-resolution seafloor map by Seabed 2030, and the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. The integration of different technologies, including landers and autonomous underwater vehicles, into operations on E/V Nautilus continues to advance national and international priorities for increasing the efficiency and sophistication of multi-vehicle ocean exploration.

2 EV Nautilus

E/V Nautilus. (Image credit: Ocean Exploration Trust)

“Support from NOAA Ocean Exploration enables the explorers sailing aboard E/V Nautilus to reach some of the most remote parts of the Pacific to gain new knowledge of the deep sea and to share their experiences with the communities that live and make their livelihoods in those same waters,” says Jeremy Weirich, Director of NOAA Ocean Exploration. “Our partners within the Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute serve as a valuable extension of NOAA’s mission, and we look forward to the new discoveries that the team will uncover this field season.”

Ocean Exploration Trust is proud to be a part of NOAA’s Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute (OECI). Our collaboration with OECI has allowed us revolutionary opportunities to explore the deep ocean and bring that exploration to people around the world. The OECI mission is to explore, map, and characterize the nation’s vast ocean territory, to develop and implement new technologies, and to engage future generations of ocean scientists, engineers, and stakeholders.

“The upcoming E/V Nautilus season serves as a nexus that brings together the talent and experience of the OECI affiliate institutions to test new technologies and operations, all while fulfilling the mission to explore the unknown parts of the ocean,” says Dr. Adam Soule, OECI Executive Director.

From May to December 2024, E/V Nautilus expeditions will be made available to the public in real-time through live-streamed video on NautilusLive.org, a 24-hour portal bringing expeditions from the field to people on shore via telepresence technology. Viewers will be able to ask our at-sea team questions via the website and can also follow expeditions with behind-the-scenes updates on social media. The team of STEAM professionals will also connect directly to classrooms via free educational Q&A interactions from the onboard broadcast studio. An ongoing series of live events on social media will also highlight expedition overviews and STEAM career features. Additionally, OET offers 150+ free STEAM education resources for K-12 learners in English, Spanish, and ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, including national-standard aligned activities, engineering design challenges, and creative projects for learners in the classroom or at home.

“We are proud to be able to share the excitement of exploration and discovery with audiences around the world,” says Dr. Daniel Wagner, OET Chief Scientist. “Our telepresence capabilities are a great tool to transport public audiences to these remote places, as well as make use of the expertise from scientists around the world. Many of the discoveries on E/V Nautilus are facilitated by scientists that are not physically on the ship but join us remotely via telepresence.”

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