Expedition Overview

April 4 - 28, NOAA Ocean Exploration will lead an expedition on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. The two-fold purpose of this expedition is to fill mapping gaps in the Atlantic’s U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone and test deep-sea camera operations.

We will focus the expedition’s 24-hour-a-day mapping operations on areas deeper than 200 meters (656 feet) offshore Puerto Rico, in U.S. waters off the U.S. East Coast, and in the high seas. Building on data collected during expeditions on Okeanos Explorer in 2015, 2018, 2022, and other work supported by NOAA Ocean Exploration and partners, we aim to complete the mapping of deepwater areas in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone north of Puerto Rico.

Using our deepwater mapping systems and telepresence, we will share mapping data about the seafloor and water column in real time. These data will increase our knowledge about the deep ocean, help inform ocean managers tasked with the protection and wise use of ocean resources, and encourage future exploration and research.

During our transit across the Puerto Rico Trench, we will test the depth limits of our new EM 304 multibeam sonar system. At more than 8,000 meters (5 miles) deep at its deepest point, the Puerto Rico Trench is the deepest trench in the Atlantic and the eighth deepest in the world.

Two explorers-in-training will participate in this expedition as part of our effort to train future ocean explorers. This unique opportunity will provide them hands-on experience collecting, processing, and managing mapping data in a real-world setting.

In partnership with the NOAA Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute, we will also test two deep-sea camera systems (one real-time remotely controlled and the other automated) to enable us to collect a wider variety of data types during mapping expeditions. The versatile and relatively low-cost cameras were designed and provided by the Multidisciplinary Instrumentation in Support of Oceanography (MISO) facility at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. They will be deployed on a conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD) rosette.

Additional science objectives include collecting and processing water samples for environmental DNA (eDNA analysis).

The mapping of Mona Seamount, which rises about 7,700 meters (4.78 miles) from the Puerto Rico Trench, was a highlight for the expedition’s mapping team during Océano Profundo 2018.
The mapping of Mona Seamount, which rises about 7,700 meters (4.78 miles) from the Puerto Rico Trench, was a highlight for the expedition’s mapping team during Océano Profundo 2018. Image courtesy of NOAA Ocean Exploration, Océano Profundo 2018: Exploring Deep-sea Habitats off Puerto Rico & the U.S. Virgin Islands. Download largest version (jpg, 169 KB).
During the 2022 North Puerto Rico Mapping and Deep-Sea Camera Demonstration expedition, deep-sea cameras will be deployed on a conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD) rosette like this one. The CTD rosette will also be used to collect water samples for environmental eDNA analysis.
During the 2022 North Puerto Rico Mapping and Deep-Sea Camera Demonstration expedition, deep-sea cameras will be deployed on a conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD) rosette like this one. The CTD rosette will also be used to collect water samples for environmental eDNA analysis. Image courtesy of Art Howard, GFOE, 2021 Technology Demonstration. Download largest version (jpg, 26 MB).

Operations

This map shows the general planned operating area for the 2022 North Puerto Rico Mapping and Deep-Sea Camera Demonstration expedition (EX2203). The expedition will depart San Juan, Puerto Rico, on April 4 and return to port in Newport, Rhode Island, on April 28.
This map shows the general planned operating area for the 2022 North Puerto Rico Mapping and Deep-Sea Camera Demonstration expedition (EX2203). The expedition will depart San Juan, Puerto Rico, on April 4 and return to port in Newport, Rhode Island, on April 28. Image courtesy of NOAA Ocean Exploration, 2022 North Puerto Rico Mapping and Deep-Sea Camera Demonstration. Download largest version (jpg, 3.6 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

NOAA Ocean Exploration

Emily Crum
Communication Specialist
emily.crum@noaa.gov

NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations

David Hall
Public Affairs Officer
david.l.hall@noaa.gov

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Suzanne Pelisson
Associate Director, Public Relations
media@whoi.edu

NOAA Ocean Exploration’s 2022 North Puerto Rico Mapping and Deep-Sea Camera Demonstration expedition will contribute to the National Strategy for Exploring, Mapping, and Characterizing the United States Exclusive Economic Zone (PDF, 1.9 MB) and Seabed 2030 and is part of NOAA’s Atlantic Seafloor Partnership for Integrated Research and Exploration (ASPIRE) campaign.

Data collected during this expedition will be available in NOAA’s public data archives within 60-90 days of the end of the expedition and accessible via the NOAA Ocean Exploration Digital Atlas.