NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer departed Apia, Samoa's harbor this morning to begin the Discovering the Deep: Exploring Remote Pacific Marine Protected Areas expedition. We are currently transiting north to our first dive site at Swains Island. Swains Island is an atoll geographically located at the southern end of the Tokelau chain of islands and seamounts. It is a unit of National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. The goal of this first dive is to gather baseline information on deep-sea habitats and biological communities to better understand their diversity and distribution. Researchers on the previous expedition, the first leg of the 2017 American Samoa expedition, are also excited about collecting rock samples in the area to determine the geologic origins of this island. Given the relative proximity of the recent dives at Rose Atoll and Vailulu'u Seamount, exploring Swains Island will help us understand the distribution and connectivity of biological communities within this sanctuary and the broader geological and ecological connections along the Tokelau Archipelago. Tune in to the live feeds tomorrow to learn more about this uncharted area and get a glimpse of some of the life at depth.