Given the immense breadth and scope of ocean exploration, it would be impossible for us to meet our mission without working closely with other federal and state agencies, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, and private industry. This is why partnerships play such a crucial role in all of the work that we accomplish within the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER).

OER's partnerships leverage complementary expertise and produce innovations in exploration tools and capabilities. By working with institutions with a range of experience, expertise, and creativity, we are able to enhance the potential for significant new advances in discovery, understanding, and action. We are also working to coordinate a national program for ocean exploration, the foundation of which will need to be built on strong and successful partnerships across the exploration community.

Below are just a few highlights from our partners and partnership-based projects that we have been involved with.



Google Earth image of Maug from above.

Collapsed Volcano Inspires Natural Coral Reef Lab

As climate change continues, scientists are in a race to predict the ways it will affect the natural environment. By understanding climate change, they hope to anticipate issues related to food supply, habitat management, and natural resources.

One area of concern is ocean acidification. The ocean absorbs about 25 percent of all of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere as a result of our consumption of fossil fuels. The result is that the delicate chemistry of the ocean is being altered—the pH is steadily being lowered, making seawater more acidic.


A red grouper checks out a diver. They are curious and often relatively unafraid to approach humans in their midst. Photo Credit: NURC.

Coral Ecosystem Connectivity Expedition: From Pulley Ridge to the Florida Keys

The 2013 Pulley Ridge Expedition was the second of a five-year study to investigate the role that healthy mesophotic coral reefs play in replenishing key fish species and other organisms in the downstream reefs of the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas. The expedition was funded by NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and OER in partnership with NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, National Marine Fisheries Service's Southeast Regional Office, and Gulf of Mexico Regional Collaboration Team. The project is led by the University of Miami and represents a collaboration of over 35 scientists at 11 different universities working with state and federal agencies. In addition to increasing understanding of the underlying processes that regulate Pulley Ridge and Pulley Ridge's connection to the coral reef communities in the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas, results will help determine if the area would benefit from further protection.


Map showing the area where the Okeanos Explorer will conduct operations during the New England Seamount Chain Exploration.

Detecting Marine Hazards for Coastal Resiliency

In April and June 2013, a NOAA Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis buoy off the coast of New England and several coastal tide gauges detected two tsunami-like waves. Partnering with NOAA's Center for Tsunami Research and the U.S. Geological Survey Natural Hazards Program, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, which was in the area on an OER seafloor mapping expedition, rapidly responded and conducted a repeat bathymetric survey of the head of Hudson Canyon where models suggested both waves may have originated, possibly from a sub-marine landslide. The timely investigation of these events made a significant contribution toward understanding and resolving a potential threat to lives and property along the eastern U.S. coastline. Rapid response is an integral part of Okeanos' mission.



To learn more about other partnership projects, view our recent office activities, browse our Annual Reports, or visit the Explorations page.