Location: Marianas Trench Marine National Monument and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands
Date: April – May 2016
Ship: NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
I co-led this expedition to explore and collect baseline information in unknown and poorly-known areas in and around the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands using the ROV Deep Discoverer. Most of the deep sea in this area has never been surveyed, so initiatives like this are important as they give a glimpse of what habitats are down in the depths and what lives at them. This then allows us to take the appropriate measures to manage and protect them.
ROV surveys were conducted from 240-4,996 m and dive sites included precious-coral and bottomfish fishery habitats, seamounts and manganese-encrusted seafloor habitats, hydrothermal vents, mud volcanoes, and extinct and active volcanic calderas. Working in poorly-known regions means lots of new animals and habitats, and the Marianas were no exception! We collected 45 different species, each likely new to science, and 28 rock samples for use in age-dating and geochemical composition analysis. Check out the Mission Summary for more details.
There were more than 2.5 million views of the live video feeds from the expedition and the expedition was covered by more than 70 media outlets, including CNN, NPR, LA Times, Washington Post, Scientific American, USA Today, BBC! We think this little jellyfish was the trigger but it meant we were kept busy doing interviews during and after the cruise.
Find out more about the expedition here: