NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer: Get Involved

R/V Cape Fear

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer is currently the only federally funded ship dedicated to the systematic exploration of our largely unknown ocean for the purpose of discovery and the advancement of knowledge. Telepresence, using real-time broadband satellite communications, connects the ship and its discoveries live with audiences on shore. This model allows far more people to participate in Okeanos expeditions than with a more “traditional” research cruise, providing many opportunities to get involved.

The Okeanos conducts two primary types of cruises during a field season – mapping exploration and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) cruises. Each type of mission offers different opportunities for involvement, as outlined below.


Mapping Exploration Cruises

The first phase of Okeanos exploration involves reconnaissance — acquiring seafloor mapping and water column data in order to identify features or anomalies of interest for further investigation and to create first-order landscape-level maps of unexplored areas of the global ocean. Scientists and students can become involved in mapping expeditions in several ways:


Telepresence-enabled ROV Cruises

Mapping exploration missions set the stage for the second step in the Okeanos exploration model — conducting site characterization using remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to explore seafloor habitats.

During a typical ROV cruise, the majority of participants are on shore. This includes our science team, who participate by viewing live video feeds and other data and sharing their expert observations and guidance with other scientists via instant messaging and teleconference. The on-shore members of the science team are coordinated and led by two scientists, including the Science Team Lead, located on the ship. All scientists take part in cruise planning and daily science meetings via teleconference.

During ROV expeditions, the primary data streamed to shore in real-time is video data, augmented by mapping and CTD rosette data acquired at night. Thus, our science team is largely composed of scientists for whom these are relevant datasets, such as biologists, geologists, chemists, and archaeologists. It is not uncommon for a science team to include over 50 scientists who participate at various levels throughout an expedition.

An opportunity to take part in an ROV expedition as a member of the science team is an opportunity to participate from shore in one of several capacities:



A primary mission for the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) is inspiring young people, to build the next generation of ocean explorers. One way to do this is by arming educators with the tools and information they need to bring the wonder, excitement, and importance of ocean exploration to students. Educators can become involved in Okeanos Explorer expeditions in a variety of ways:


Members of the Media

Throughout Okeanos Explorer expeditions, resources are available to members of the media, including broadcast, print, and web-quality imagery and video. Members of the media interested in learning more about the ship and its missions or scheduling interviews with the science team should direct inquiries to the contacts listed below.

NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

Katie Wagner
Public Affairs Officer
Office: (301) 734 - 1008

1315 East West Highway
SSMC III, 10th Floor
Silver Spring, MD 20910
(301) 734 - 1000

NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations

David Hall
Public Affairs Officer
(301) 713 - 7671


General Public

Thanks to telepresence technology on the ship, anyone with an Internet connection can follow the excitement of Okeanos Explorer discoveries. While we do not currently have the capability to allow direct interaction between the public and members of our science team, there are many opportunities for members of the public to follow along: