Our first live expedition of 2023 brings us back to the region of Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll as part of our ongoing effort to explore the deep ocean in and around the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM) through the Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute. This 29-day telepresence-enabled expedition will start and end in Honolulu, and utilize the deep-water mapping and ROV capabilities of E/V Nautilus to explore the deep-sea geology and biology in US waters.
As we visit never-before-seen seamounts and habitats this year, for the first time we will integrate a Laser Divebot Spectrometer from SETI and Impossible Sensing into ROV operations. This sensor collects high-fidelity chemical composition data on materials, including rocks, sediments, and biological samples, eventually limiting the need for physical samples.
The US waters surrounding Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll are home to some of the most pristine marine ecosystems on Earth. While recent expeditions have increased our baseline knowledge of the deep-water resources of this region, large areas remain completely unexplored, particularly areas north of the Kingman/Palmyra Unit of PRIMNM. Further explorations of these areas are urgently needed to address the management and science needs of the region as a monument management plan is under development, including a better understanding of the deep-water natural and cultural resources here, biogeographic patterns of species distributions, and the geological context of the region.
This expedition is funded by NOAA Ocean Exploration via the Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute.