2024 Expedition
Exploring Palau National Marine Sanctuary

Lebuu's Voyage I - Palau

October 29 – November 8, 2024

Expedition Partners

Expedition Lead

Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) –protection secured by Euotelel a Klingil a Debel Belau– is one of the most ambitious conservation efforts on Earth. Despite being rich in natural and cultural resources, there is very little data available from deep ocean habitats protected within PNMS. Working closely with the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC), NOAA Ocean Exploration, and other Palauan and U.S. collaborators, OET will lead this 11-day expedition to gather seafloor mapping data and explore the seafloor with remotely operated vehicles to illuminate deep sea habitats around Palau.

The expedition was named Lebuu’s Voyage by Palauan stakeholders as part of a strategic effort to advance traditional knowledge and best practices in tandem with scientific understanding. This process is being facilitated by the Bureau of Cultural & Historical Preservation Office, OneReef, and the Palau International Coral Reef Center. Learn more about the name here.

Less than 20% of Palau’s exclusive economic zone has been mapped to high resolution, most of which is within shallower waters. Yet, deep water regions surrounding Palau host rich and diverse marine resources, including over 225 underwater mountain seamounts and extremely deep ecosystems in the Palau Trench. All data gathered will be provided to the Palauan government and PICRC to support and enable follow-on exploration and management activities to better understand and care for the ocean. This expedition will use telepresence technology and OET’s robust outreach and education program to engage broad audiences across Palau and the Pacific Island Region. Specific cruise objectives will continue to be refined as we work with community and scientific partners.

This expedition is funded by NOAA Ocean Exploration via the Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute as a contribution to the US government commitment made at the 7th Our Oceans Conference to support the mapping of the Sanctuary.

Meet the Team