Expedition Overview

From April 6-19, 2022, a team of researchers will use emerging technologies to explore deepwater habitats off the coast of Puerto Rico that are poorly explored, yet likely host a wide variety of marine life, including commercially important species and species new to science.

During the Illuminating Biodiversity in Deep Waters of Puerto Rico 2022 expedition on NOAA Ship Nancy Foster, the team will use remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Global Explorer to explore deepwater submarine canyons, ridges, and banks only miles off Puerto Rico’s coast. ROV dives will explore both midwater and seafloor habitats at depths from 200 to 2,500 meters (656 to 8,202 feet) in order to increase understanding of deep-ocean biodiversity in the region.

Niskin bottles and a modified Suspended Particulate Rosette (SuPR) Sampler on Global Explorer will be used to collect samples from the water column for environmental DNA (eDNA) and other analyses. A low-light camera on the ROV will enable a less-intrusive study of midwater organisms and the collection of imagery of bioluminescent organisms.

Habitats in waters deeper than 200 meters in the Caribbean, such as those that will be explored during this expedition, remain some of the least explored areas of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. Data collected during this expedition will help to establish a baseline understanding of these habitats in order to detect and assess future changes and preserve the long-term health of vulnerable marine ecosystems and fisheries.

Exploring the midwater can yield new discoveries, such as this newly described ctenophore by Illuminating Biodiversity in Deep Waters of Puerto Rico expedition co-principal investigator Allen Collins. Other organisms such as jellyfish, cephalopods, and siphonophores are often seen during midwater explorations.
Exploring the midwater can yield new discoveries, such as this ctenophore recently described by Illuminating Biodiversity in Deep Waters of Puerto Rico expedition co-principal investigator Allen Collins. Other organisms such as jellyfish, cephalopods, and siphonophores are often seen during midwater explorations. Image courtesy of NOAA Ocean Exploration, Exploring Puerto Rico’s Seamounts, Trenches, and Troughs. Download largest version (jpg, 1.3 MB).
The low-light camera (glass sphere on right side of image) mounted on remotely operated vehicle Global Explorer that will be used to enable a less-intrusive study of midwater organisms and the collection of imagery of bioluminescent organisms during the Illuminating Biodiversity in Deep Waters of Puerto Rico expedition.
The low-light camera (glass sphere on right side of image) mounted on remotely operated vehicle Global Explorer that will be used to enable a less-intrusive study of midwater organisms and the collection of imagery of bioluminescent organisms during the Illuminating Biodiversity in Deep Waters of Puerto Rico expedition. Image courtesy of Brennan Phillips. Download largest version (jpg, 509 KB).

Operations

Map of the exploration area along the southern coast of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Sea with a few target locations. Bathymetry courtesy of USGS.
Map of the exploration area along the southern coast of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Sea with a few target locations. Bathymetry courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey. Download largest version (jpg, 2.4 MB).

Education Themes

Education Theme pages provide the best of what the NOAA Ocean Exploration website has to offer to support your classroom during this expedition. On each theme page, you will find links to expedition features, lessons, multimedia, career information, and associated past expeditions.

Media Contacts

Ryan Lavery

Senior Press Officer
Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History
LaveryR@si.edu

Emily Crum

Communication Specialist
NOAA Ocean Exploration
emily.crum@noaa.gov

Funding for this expedition was provided by NOAA Ocean Exploration via its Ocean Exploration Fiscal Year 2021 Funding Opportunity and through a 2022 grant from the Smithsonian Women’s Committee. Shiptime was provided by the NOAA Fisheries Office of Science and Technology.