Accessing Samples Collected by NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer is the only federal vessel dedicated to exploring our largely unknown ocean for the purpose of discovery and the advancement of knowledge about the deep ocean. America’s future depends on understanding the ocean. We explore the ocean to make valuable scientific, economic, and cultural discoveries; we explore because ocean health and resilience are vital to our economy and to our lives. Exploration supports NOAA mission priorities and national objectives by providing high quality scientific information about the deep ocean to anyone who needs it.

In close collaboration with government agencies, academic institutions, and other partners, NOAA OER conducts deep ocean exploration expeditions using advanced technologies on Okeanos Explorer. From mapping and characterizing previously unseen seafloor to collecting and disseminating information about ocean depths, this work helps to establish baseline information and fill data gaps. Data collected on the ship follow federal open-access data standards and are publicly available shortly after an expedition ends. This ensures the delivery of reliable scientific data needed to identify, understand, and manage key elements of the ocean environment. OER ocean exploration expeditions are designed to catalyze follow-on research and to meet management needs.


Biologic Samples

Biologic samples will be made available through the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History Research and Collections to provide access to as many researchers as possible. Here they will be taxonomically identified, curated and made accessible through the Invertebrate Zoology Collection.  Online metadata information about the samples, a searchable database, and information on how to request the samples is available online:

During at-sea sample processing, prior to additional preservation techniques such as ethanol or formalin, small tissue samples are preserved onboard for later genomic DNA and RNA extraction at the Ocean Genome Legacy Center in Northeastern University. Available materials can be searched, browsed, and requested through the online catalog on the OGL website, exit icon. OGL can also be contacted directly at, 781-581-7370 x343.

Additionally, selected coral and sponge specimens will be subsampled and made accessible through the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum’s marine invertebrate collection. The museum has a website about the Invertebrate Zoology collection including FAQs, description of holdings, a searchable database, loan request forms for specimens and contact information: exit icon


Geologic Samples

All rock samples are archived through Oregon State University’s Marine Geology Repository ( exit icon). These samples are now available through the Repository’s sample library. The Repository provides online metadata information about the rocks and how to request samples.


Digital Sampling Data

Digital records of all Okeanos Explorer sampling operations can be accessed through the OER Digital Atlas Through the Digital Atlas, users can find the “Collected Specimens” from the Data Access tab of cruises for which specimens were collected. Another source of information about the sampling operations and access to some selected images for each specimen can be found in the Okeanos Explorer Atlas Through this GIS application, users can access a point layer of locations where specimens were collected for each applicable cruise with information about each specimen as well as in-situ, close-up, and laboratory images of each specimen.