Okeanos rift exploration

What We Do

The world’s deep ocean remains largely unexplored, leaving significant gaps in the basic environmental intelligence needed to manage and protect ocean resources and forecast future environmental changes. The NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) is the only federal organization dedicated to exploring the unknown reaches of our ocean.

We support deep-ocean expeditions to gather science at, and make assessments of, previously unexplored areas. We invest in new technologies and state-of-the-art platforms and vehicles, develop and implement better data and information management measures, and inform and educate society about our ocean. Our work is filling those gaps in knowledge of deep-water areas, delivering information critical to addressing current and emerging science and management issues.

The reliable and authoritative science and data that results from our work is foundational to making everyday decisions needed to not only to manage and protect our ocean, but also to protect lives, property, and economic well-being.


Mission: OER explores the ocean to enhance research, policy, and management decisions; to develop new lines of scientific inquiry; and to advise NOAA and the nation on critical issues by:

Vision: The NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research catalyzes discovery to transform understanding of the global ocean.


Learn more about the work we do by exploring the pages listed below.


Work Areas
From expedition planning and operations to technology, data management, education, and more, visit this page to learn about OER's expertise, work products, and services.


Office Updates
Check out this page to learn more about what is happening in OER, including recent accomplishments and announcements as well as upcoming events and activities.


News Room
Access press releases distributed by OER and our partners highlighting our work.


Visit this page for information about OER federal funding opportunities and the Exploration Project of Opportunity process on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.


Program Review
In 2012, an Ocean Exploration Review Panel conducted the first-ever formal, independent review of the NOAA Ocean Exploration Program. This page contains documents from the review, as well as the panel's final report outlining the results of the review.


National Forums on Ocean Exploration
The 2009 legislation that formalized NOAA’s ocean exploration responsibilities requires NOAA to hold periodic national meetings to “establish an ocean exploration forum to encourage partnerships and promote communications among experts and other stakeholders in order to enhance the scientific and technical expertise and relevance of the national program.”


OER has funded multiple ocean explorations since 2001. Peer-reviewed publications resulting from these missions are available through the OER Digital Atlas, an online map index providing centralized access to distributed information resulting from exploration. A full, ten-year bibliography is also available.


Annual Reports
Browse OER Annual Reports to learn more about our activities and accomplishments over the years.