NOAA Ocean Exploration Updates

Check this page to learn more about what is happening in NOAA Ocean Exploration, including recent accomplishments and announcements as well as information about upcoming events and activities. Or, visit the archive for past updates.

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  • Understanding of Methane Seep Formation and Prevalence on U.S. Atlantic Margin Advanced by New Study

    May 9, 2024

    A major new study on the distribution and origin of methane seeps on the U.S. Atlantic margin — the seafloor between the coast and the deep ocean — expands the inventory of methane seeps (also called cold seeps) between the South Atlantic Bight and Georges Bank and explores the processes that contribute to their formation.

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  • Two newly described sea stars named in honor of ocean explorers, including NOAA’s Kelley Suhre

    April 16, 2024

    In a new journal article, Christopher L. Mah describes two species and a genus of sea star previously unknown to science. Mah, a research associate with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and frequent participant in NOAA Ocean Exploration’s live-streamed remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dives, named the sea stars in honor of two women in the ocean exploration field: marine biologist Rhian Waller and NOAA Ocean Exploration’s own Kelley Suhre.

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  • NOAA Ocean Exploration Announces FY25 Funding Opportunity

    April 3, 2024

    On April 2, NOAA Ocean Exploration announced the Ocean Exploration Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25) Funding Opportunity to fund interdisciplinary and innovative ocean exploration-related projects. An estimated $3 million will be awarded under the themes of Ocean Exploration and Maritime Heritage.

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  • U.S.-Australia Collaboration To Advance Ocean Research

    March 19, 2024

    Amanda Finn, a physical scientist with NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey, is sailing on an 11-day voyage on Research Vessel Investigator, operated by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency. Her participation in the expedition is part of a partnership between NOAA, CSIRO, and Geoscience Australia to cooperate in ocean exploration and mapping, formalized by the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in 2022.

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  • Students work with NOAA Ocean Exploration to visualize patterns of deep-sea marine debris in the North Atlantic

    March 14, 2024

    Throughout the 2024 spring semester, students in Annette Spivy's senior capstone research class at the University of Maryland, College Park will work with Sarah Groves and Ango Hsu of NOAA Ocean Exploration's Science and Technology division to standardize and analyze nine years of North Atlantic marine debris data collected via NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.

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  • Call for Input: NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer 2024 Hawai’i and Johnston Atoll Expeditions

    February 15, 2024

    As part of our community-driven exploration model, NOAA Ocean Exploration invites you to submit exploration recommendations for mapping and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) operations on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.

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  • Updated Guide Aids Deepwater Animal Identification

    January 31, 2024

    NOAA Ocean Exploration’s Benthic Deepwater Animal Identification Guide has become a popular and trusted ocean science community resource and is used (and contributed to) by ocean scientists around the world to help identify animals seen during deep-ocean exploration. With the release of its fourth version in January 2024, the guide is now searchable and includes animals seen in deep waters of the Atlantic along with deepwater animals of the Pacific from earlier versions of the guide.

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  • Multi-Partner Mapping Effort Reveals Largest Known Deep-sea Coral Reef Habitat

    January 17, 2024

    Covering 6.4 million acres, an area larger than Vermont, an underwater seascape of cold-water coral mounds offshore the southeast United States coast has been deemed the largest deep-sea coral reef habitat discovered to date, according to a paper recently published  in the scientific journal Geomatics.

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  • Exploring Iconic Shipwrecks from Battle of Midway to Provide Never-Before-Seen Details 

    September 19, 2023

    From September 8 to 12, 2023, a team led by Ocean Exploration Trust [including NOAA Ocean Exploration] aboard Exploration Vessel Nautilus conducted in-depth archaeological assessments of three World War II aircraft carriers lost during the Battle of Midway. The assessments include the first visual survey of Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) Akagi, the first detailed views of United States Ship (USS) Yorktown since it was first located 25 years ago, and a comprehensive survey of IJN Kaga. These historically significant wrecks were explored in their final resting places within Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, the largest protected area in the U.S. and one of the largest in the world.

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  • Unidentified Golden Specimen Captures Public Imagination

    September 7, 2023

    On August 30, 2023, while using remotely operated vehicles to dive on a small seamount in the Gulf of Alaska, mission personnel aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer came across a confounding sight. While gliding over a rocky outcrop at a depth of about 3,300 meters (~2 miles), they found what one of the videographers onboard helping to document the dive first referred to as a “yellow hat.”

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  • E/V Nautilus Expedition to Explore Near Battle of Midway Sites

    September 6, 2023

    For the United States and Japan, the waters around Midway Atoll are an important place in our shared history. It was in these waters where the two nations met in the Battle of Midway in June 1942. Nearly 3,400 sailors and airmen lost their lives during the battle between the United States and Japan, which also resulted in the loss of seven large ships and hundreds of aircraft. Much of the battle occurred at sea, where these ships and many of the aircraft remain to this day and serve as testaments to the men who made the ultimate sacrifice for their countries.

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  • 2023 Seward Marine Science Symposium: Discover the Edge of the Unknown

    August 11, 2023

    On September 17, 2023, the Alaska Sealife Center , Chugach Regional Resources Commission’s Alutiiq Pride Marine Institute , University of Alaska Fairbanks Seward Marine Center , and NOAA Ocean Exploration will host the first annual 2023 Seward Marine Science Symposium. Join us for the opportunity to tour local marine science facilities, meet and hear from ocean scientists and explorers, and contribute to a community art project. Learn about local marine science activities, including Indigenous-led science research and recent work on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer to explore deep waters in the region, and how all of these activities impact the City of Seward, the Resurrection Bay area, Kenai Fjords Park, and beyond.

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  • NOAA Ocean Exploration Announces FY23 Ocean Exploration Funding Opportunity Awards

    August 1, 2023

    NOAA Ocean Exploration selected nine projects for financial support through its Ocean Exploration Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) Funding Opportunity. Totaling over $5 million, these projects will explore poorly understood U.S. waters off Alaska, Southern California, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands; search for a historic shipwreck in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary off Washington; and develop tools and technologies to advance ocean exploration.

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  • Newly Discovered Aleutian Margin Cold Seeps Host Gas Hydrate and Dense Colonies of Tubeworms

    July 24, 2023

    Dive 04 of Seascape Alaska 3: Aleutians Remotely Operated Vehicle Exploration and Mapping expedition took place on July 18, 2023. During the dive, we explored Aleutian arc cold seeps (Sanak seeps) that were discovered only two months earlier during the Seascape 1: Aleutians Deepwater Mapping expedition. The dive at 2,100 meters (6,900 feet) water depth was carried out using NOAA Ocean Exploration’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Deep Discoverer (D2). Exploration of the Sanak seeps resulted in the discovery of bubble plumes, gas hydrates, thousands of tubeworms, patches of chemosynthetic clams, and special rocks produced by microbial processes.

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  • Dive In To Alaska’s Deep Waters!

    July 14, 2023

    With its vast wilderness, diverse wildlife, stunning landscapes, and rich cultural heritage, Alaska is a place of beauty and wonder. But did you know that the deep waters of Alaska hold their own secrets – from fascinating geological features like mud volcanoes and gas seeps to diverse and plentiful marine life, such as corals, sponges, and fish? This summer, prepare to deepen your perspective and join us LIVE for an expedition to explore what lies below the ocean’s surface off Alaska.

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  • Celebrating World Ocean Day 2023

    June 8, 2023

    In honor of World Ocean Day, rising leaders of the next generation of ocean stewards and explorers sat down to answer some questions and share some of their motivations, thoughts, and hopes for the ocean’s future.

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  • Watch Live: NOAA Expedition to Explore Deep Ocean off U.S. West Coast

    April 14, 2023

    Starting April 15, NOAA Ocean Exploration and partners will be diving within deep waters off the U.S. West Coast, from Oregon to Washington, and you are invited to join – LIVE!

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  • Seattle Port Event 2023: Explore With Us

    April 5, 2023

    On April 29, 2023, NOAA Ocean Exploration will spearhead a public port event in Seattle, Washington, in conjunction with regional NOAA entities. The port event will provide the public the chance to tour NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer and get a close-up look at the remotely operated vehicles used to explore the seafloor and water column, and to see deep-sea specimens, newly created bathymetric maps, and videos from past expeditions.

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  • Unexplored Waters of Alaska and California Mapped During Uncrewed Expedition

    March 15, 2023

    The Aleutians Uncrewed Ocean Exploration expedition has resulted in the mapping of more than 45,000 square kilometers (17,375 square miles) of seafloor in previously unexplored areas around Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and off the California coast.

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  • Announcing 2023 Ocean Exploration Education Grants to Advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

    March 1, 2023

    NOAA Ocean Exploration and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation have awarded 12 grants to help engage and inspire the next generation of ocean explorers by supporting diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility efforts related to ocean literacy and workforce development.

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  • NOAA Ocean Exploration 2023 U.S. West Coast Expeditions Overview (EX2208, EX2301, EX2302, EX2309, EX2310)

    February 22, 2023

    From October 2022 through December 2023, NOAA Ocean Exploration and partners will conduct a series of telepresence-enabled ocean exploration expeditions on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer to improve knowledge about unexplored and poorly understood deepwater areas of the U.S. West Coast from Southern California to Washington.

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  • UPDATE: Frontiers in Marine Science Paper Published

    January 10, 2023

    On January 10, 2023, the paper “Deep-sea biology in undergraduate classrooms: Open access data from remotely operated vehicles provide impactful research experiences,” was published in Frontiers in Marine Science. The paper highlights the value of course-based research in enhancing learning experiences, illustrating how students in an undergraduate marine biology laboratory course at SUNY Geneseo were able to use open-source ROV data to study the relationship between substrate type and biodiversity of deepwater coral communities located within the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.

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  • NOAA Ocean Exploration Meets Major Mapping Milestone on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

    November 15, 2021

    Two million square kilometers. Or 772,204 square miles. That’s more than one quarter the size of the contiguous United States. And it’s the area of seafloor mapped by NOAA Ocean Exploration using the modern, high-resolution multibeam sonar system aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer since the ship was commissioned in 2008.

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  • Discovery of SS Bloody Marsh

    November 1, 2021

    On October 28, 2021, NOAA Ocean Exploration discovered the likely wreck of SS Bloody Marsh, an oil tanker sunk off the coast of South Carolina by a German U-boat in 1943.

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  • Federal Communications Commission Special Event Station (W4U) Celebrating the Alabama Undersea Forest

    September 2, 2021

    Calling all ham radio operators: The Federal Communications Commission has authorized special event callsign W4U to operate through Saturday, September 11, 2021. This special event station, the “Gulf of Mexico Underwater Forests,” will educate the worldwide amateur radio community about a unique scientific discovery: remains of an ancient cypress forest that once graced the Alabama coastline but now, due to sea level rise, lies 60 feet beneath the waves.

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  • Ocean Exploration Fiscal Year 2021 Funding Opportunity Awards

    July 13, 2021

    Through the Ocean Exploration Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Funding Opportunity, NOAA Ocean Exploration selected eight projects for financial support totaling approximately $3.5 million. For the FY21 competition, we solicited proposals to map, explore, and characterize deep waters of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone to improve understanding of the vast ocean resources of the nation and to advance economic, health, security, and environmental interests.

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  • Meet the Explorers of the 2021 North Atlantic Stepping Stones Expedition

    June 24, 2021

    Expedition Coordinator Kasey Cantwell will join biology Science Lead Rhian Waller of the University of Maine, geology Science Co-Lead Jason Chaytor of the U.S. Geological Survey, and onshore scientist Chris Mah of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History for a discussion about the exploration, including memorable moments and interesting finds, expedition goals and roles, and more.

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  • Explore! Journey to Earth's Largest Habitat

    June 24, 2021

    2021 is NOAA Ocean Exploration’s 20th Anniversary. As part of the celebration, NOAA Communications released a story map that takes viewers deep into Earth’s largest habitat.

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  • Announcing

    June 8, 2021

    Developed through a partnership with NOAA Ocean Exploration, Ocean Exploration Trust, and Schmidt Ocean Institute, the Deep Ocean Education Project website combines standards-aligned student activities, high-resolution images and videos, stories from the field, and information needed to stay current on ocean exploration expeditions—making learning about the deep-sea accessible to all. Visitors to the website can save resources directly to a collection that they build and organize with a free account and share their collections directly with colleagues or friends.

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  • NOAA Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute Award Ceiling Increased to $150 Million

    June 3, 2021

    The NOAA Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute has received approval from NOAA to increase the amount of funding it is eligible to receive, called its award ceiling, from the original award ceiling of $94 million to $150 million over the initial five-year award period.

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  • 2021 Technology Demonstration: Meet the Explorers!

    May 5, 2021

    On Wednesday, May 5 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, join a live event introducing the 2021 Technology Demonstration. NOAA Ocean Exploration’s Mike White, Meredith Everett of the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Russell Smith of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Tim Shank of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution will discuss the technologies that will be tested on the expedition and the potential of these technologies for improving our collective understanding of both the ocean here on Earth, and possibly even oceans on other planets. The session will conclude with a question and answer session.

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  • Seafloor Mapping Data Reveals Large Number of Gas Seeps Off U.S. West Coast

    April 28, 2021

    The West Coast continental shelf is known to host methane bubble streams, formerly thought to be rare. However, results of a recently published paper indicate that nearly 3,500 methane bubble streams, clustered into more than 1,300 methane emission sites, emanate from the seafloor in an area known as the Cascadia Margin.

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  • Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science

    February 11, 2021

    At NOAA Ocean Exploration, women are an integral part of the work being accomplished every single day. But today, February 11, we are taking a moment to reflect on contributions women members of the NOAA Ocean Exploration team have made to our mission to explore the ocean by sharing just a few web highlights from over the years.

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  • National Ocean Exploration Forum, October 20 - 21, 2017

    October 17, 2017

    On the weekend of October 21-22, 2017, experts in ocean exploration and data science will come together for the annual National Ocean Exploration Forum at the University of California San Diego’s Qualcomm Institute. The goal of the Forum, titled Ocean Exploration in a Sea of Data, is to move the way we experience ocean exploration data into the future.

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  • Ocean Exploration Celebration: October 1, 2017

    September 19, 2017

    Come celebrate ocean exploration with us! On October 1, 2017, we invite you to a very special opportunity to come tour two of the most technologically advanced research and exploration vessels in the world. Both Schmidt Ocean Institute’s R/V Falkor and NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer will be docked at the University of Hawaii Marine Center - Pier 35, Honolulu, Hawaii, celebrating recent exploration activities and preparing for upcoming expeditions.

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  • NOAA Ocean Exploration Launches Octonauts Corner Webpage

    April 21, 2017

    On April 19, NOAA Ocean Exploration launched the Ocotnauts Corner webpage. On this webpage, visitors can download Creature Cards (educational coloring sheets) and a Deep Sea Creature Chart and view related videos from Okeanos Explorer expeditions.

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  • From Surface to Seafloor: Exploration of the Water Column

    March 6, 2017

    On March 4-5, 2018, NOAA Ocean Exploration and the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research & Technology hosted a workshop, From Surface to Seafloor: Exploration of the Water Column.

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  • National Ocean Exploration Forum 2015 and 2016 Reports Available

    February 27, 2017

    The final reports from the 2015 and 2016 National Ocean Exploration Forums are now available.

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NOAA Ocean Exploration Updates Archive