Ala ʻAumoana Kai Uli in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument
We once again voyage to the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) to explore unseen deep-sea habitats using our ROV technology. We’ve had the privilege of exploring with expeditions across four years, working with the Native Hawaiian Cultural Working Group to appropriately incorporate Hawaiian culture into expedition activities. Previous exploration of the Monument’s seamounts has granted us stunning views of wildlife and deep sea habitats, including dumbo octopuses, sea dandelions, and colorful coral gardens.
The expedition name was composed in collaboration with OET, former Kānaka (Native Hawaiian) OET interns, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and members of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) Native Hawaiian Cultural Working Group (CWG). The name Ala ʻAumoana Kai Uli (path of the deep sea traveler) speaks to the work that will be done on this upcoming expedition but the name also speaks to the responsibility and accountability that we have to each other in protecting our shared ocean. Ala ʻAumoana Kai Uli is a reflection of our collective experiences as people who love and protect the ocean. This name incites images of physical and metaphoric paths, connecting ocean people to each other and various spaces within the ocean. These paths have been meticulously tended to over time, but the name also reminds us of our continued shared responsibility to care for these paths and our ever-developing relationships. Learn more.
In 2016, PMNM was expanded to cover over 1.5 million square kilometers, making it the largest marine protected area in the world at the time and to this day, still the largest in the United States. While historic expeditions have increased our baseline knowledge of the deep-water resources of PMNM, large areas remain completely unexplored, particularly throughout the PMNM expansion zone. Further exploration in these areas is urgently needed to address the management and science needs of the region, including a better understanding of the deep-water natural and cultural resources of PMNM, biogeographic patterns of species distributions, and the geological context of the region. This 27-day expedition will start and end in Honolulu and utilize the ROV and mapping capabilities of E/V Nautilus to survey previously unexplored deep-sea habitats of PMNM, focusing on areas towards the northwestern extent of the Monument. This area includes numerous previously unexplored seamounts of biological and geological significance, as well as several underwater cultural heritage sites associated with the Battle of Midway.
This expedition is funded by NOAA Ocean Exploration via the Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute.