Gulf of Mexico 2012

Mission Logs

Follow along as participants in the cruise provide updates and reflections on their experiences, the science, the technology, and other elements of the expedition.

  • High School Students Tour the Okeanos Explorer

    April 30, 2012  |  By Fred Gorrell

    Students from two maritime academies in high schools from Houston, Texas, joined the regional winners of the National Ocean Science Bowl from a third Houston high school, to tour NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, America’s ship for ocean exploration, while the ship was docked in Galveston.

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  • Leg 3 Cruise Summary

    April 29, 2012  |  By James A. Austin

    The third and final cruise of the Okeanos Explorer’s 2012 Gulf of Mexico Expedition had three primary objectives.

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  • Bentho-pelagic Holothuroids: Masters of Buoyancy

    April 24, 2012  |  By Robert S. Carney

    During our exploration we have encountered deep-sea holothuroids, also known as “sea cucumbers,” which can manage this buoyancy task remarkably well. So well that we have to ask: How do they do it?

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  • Morale Boosters

    April 23, 2012  |  By Court Squires

    Morale is just as important as every other facet of a successful journey on board the Okeanos Explorer; it is an assigned collateral duty that is an essential part of the seafaring way of life.

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  • Searching for Seeps

    April 22, 2012  |  By Kody Kramer and Bill Shedd

    On Friday, the Okeanos Explorer and her tandem remotely operated vehicles (ROV), Little Hercules and Seirios, dove on a never before seen area of the seafloor in Ewing Bank block 915 (EW915), 130 miles south of New Orleans.

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  • The Possible Link Between Mating Squids and Sperm Whales

    April 21, 2012  |  By Mike Vecchione

    A famous quote attributed to Louis Pasteur translates as, "In the field of observation chance only favors the prepared mind." As I mentioned in a mission log prepared during Leg 2 of this Okeanos Explorer cruise, a population of sperm whales permanently resides in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Presumably, this part of the Gulf is a good place for the whales to find food, so I have been looking for the big squids that these whales dive deep to catch.

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  • Seep Sustenance

    April 20, 2012  |  By Erin Becker

    During yesterday's dive, we searched for natural hydrocarbon seeps — areas where oil and natural gas slowly leak out of the seafloor. This is an entirely natural phenomenon and an important characteristic of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem.

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  • A Gulf of Mexico Mystery Wreck

    April 19, 2012  |  By Doug Jones

    At the start of any shipwreck investigation, there is always a palpable sense of curiosity, anticipation, and excitement as archaeologists wonder to themselves: What are we about to find?

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  • Dive 06: Mystery Seeps South of the Biloxi Dome

    April 18, 2012  |  By Tom Weber

    Dive 06 of this expedition really began about seven months ago during what we call a water column mapping cruise on the Okeanos Explorer.

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  • A View From Below

    April 17, 2012  |  By Webb Pinner

    As with most of the systems aboard the Okeanos Explorer, the video system and the video engineers that operate it play an important role in the ship’s mission of systematic ocean exploration.

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  • The Gulf of Mexico's Salty Foundation

    April 15, 2012  |  By Dr. James (Jamie) A. Austin, Jr.

    The third leg of the Okeanos Explorer Gulf of Mexico mission is operating in a part of the Gulf, the oldest sediments of which are part of the upward-moving Louann Formation. This large deposit of evaporites/salt was deposited about 160 million years ago when the Gulf of Mexico formed, as the continent of South America moved away from North America, a plate separation process known as rifting.

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  • Temporal Exploration

    April 14, 2012  |  By Adam Skarke

    Ocean exploration is commonly thought of in spatial terms, e.g., the creation of maps of previously unobserved seafloor. However, it has an equally important temporal component which addresses how ocean processes change through time.

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  • VSAT Q & A

    April 13, 2012  |  By Richard Conway

    VSAT stands for Very Small Aperture Terminal. VSATs are small Earth-based dish arrays ranging from 1.2 meters (four feet) to 3.8 meters (12.5 feet). The Okeanos Explorer dish is 3.7 meters.

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  • The Launch: Okeanos Explorers’ Dive Supervisor Explains Pre-Dive Prep

    April 12, 2012  |  By Dave Lovalvo

    It’s 6 a.m. and the lights have come on. Our two underwater vehicles, Little Herc and Seirios are being prepared for their “electronic wakeup.”

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  • Departure

    April 11, 2012  |  By Court Squires

    Think of your last road trip. It is likely you pored over maps, plotted your journey (possibly even rerouted it), fueled up, (hopefully) gave the vehicle a check-up, buckled everyone in, and were on your way. Now imagine a 225-foot former Navy ship brimming with scientists, observers, and crew personnel, as everyone prepares to set sail. A little bit more daunting, eh? It could be, but if you break it down you realize preparation is preparation, and those who want to succeed leave no duty, task, or responsibility left unfinished before takeoff.

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  • Exploring the Potential Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Deep-sea Coral Ecosystems

    April 5, 2012  |  By Tim Shank

    Even two years following the Deepwater Horizon incident, determining the extent of exposure and types of impact to ecosystems in the deep Gulf of Mexico remains a high national priority.

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  • "X" Marks the Spot

    April 4, 2012  |  By ROV Team

    An interesting challenge was presented to the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) team last week: Develop a method to drop syntactic foam markers from Little Hercules to mark sites of interest for return dives.

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  • A Peculiar Class within a Peculiar Phylum

    April 3, 2012  |  By Robert S. Carney

    Holothuroids, also called sea cucumbers, are an unusual class of the unusual phylum Echinodermata, which literally means animals with spiny skins.

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  • Song for the Ocean

    April 2, 2012  |  By Tara Smithee

    Working at sea has been both an incredible personal and professional experience for me. The Okeanos Explorer is filled with amazingly skilled and passionate people.

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  • Meandering Leveed Channel Mapped by Okeanos Explorer

    April 1, 2012  |  By Elizabeth “Meme” Lobecker

    Working at sea has been both In the afternoon of March 27, when I laid out the lines to extend existing Okeanos Explorer multibeam coverage of the flat muddy bottom just west of the base of the West Florida Escarpment, I was not expecting the resulting data to generate very much excitement.

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  • Exploring a Wreck

    March 30, 2012  |  By Karl McLetchie

    Today’s dive, Dive 10, was on wreck VK0986. It is close to the mouth of the Mississippi River and we experienced strong currents and murky water.

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  • The Measure of a Coral

    March 28, 2012  |  By Peter Etnoyer

    This has been quite an interesting expedition so far, not only because of what we're exploring here in the deep Gulf of Mexico, but also because of the way we're exploring it. Along with many others, scientists from NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science/Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research in Charleston, SC, are participating remotely in the expedition using ‘telepresence’ technology via internet. We're far from the ship, but chat rooms, conference lines, video streams, FTP sites, and emails keep us plugged into the action aboard the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.

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  • The First Time...

    March 27, 2012  |  By Daniel J. Warren

    As I logged on to the Okeanos Explorer links this morning, I could hardly control my excitement over today’s dive on a potential shipwreck site.

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  • Exploring the Midwater Environment

    March 26, 2012  |  By Mike Vecchione

    Between the deep-sea bottom and the sunlit surface waters are the open waters of the deep pelagic environment.

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  • First Impressions of a New Mode of Exploration

    March 24, 2012  |  By Erik Cordes

    I have explored the depths of the ocean on a number of different ships with a variety of deep-sea vehicles, but I never done it from my desk.

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  • Prepare to Go Dark!

    March 23, 2012  |  By Jeremy Potter

    Early yesterday morning an electrical fire at a NOAA headquarters building caused havoc for a number of friends and colleagues. What most of them probably didn’t realize is that the fire also knocked out major communications mechanisms for all 18 NOAA ships. Well, all but one...

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  • Exciting Observations

    March 22, 2012  |  By Pen-Yuan Hsing

    The remotely operated vehicle (ROV) went in the water at 0800 EDT (on schedule), and we eagerly awaited the discoveries ahead of us as the ROV descended to the seafloor.

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  • “I love it when a plan...doesn’t change”

    March 21, 2012  |  By Jeremy Potter

    By 0730, we had already cancelled today's dive at our primary location on the Florida Escarpment.

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  • Leg 1 Mission Summary: DeSoto Canyon Mapping Mission

    February 27 – March 14, 2012  |  By Mashkoor Malik, John Doroba, and Lt Megan Nadeau

    NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer began her second voyage of the year from Charleston, SC, on February 27, 2012, and arrived in the vicinity of DeSoto canyon on March 4 and commenced mapping of the canyon.

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