The Ocean Exploration Trust’s top priority is the safety of our team. While E/V Nautilus is currently in its offseason, we are closely monitoring Coronavirus COVID-19 mitigation recommendations from officials to make informed decisions regarding our 2020 Expedition season. We have delayed sea-going operations until August 2020 and will continue to assess impacts as the pandemic evolves to determine if further delays or changes to our field program are needed.
Ocean Exploration Trust

2020 Expedition Season

Join the Nautilus Exploration Program for our 2020 Expedition as we shine new light on little-known regions along the North American West Coast, from British Columbia to Southern California. The Ocean Exploration Trust will embark on its sixth year of exploration in the Eastern Pacific Ocean aboard E/V Nautilus, continuing to work with expedition partners and the wider scientific community to identify priority research areas. Our remotely operated vehicle (ROV) surveys and seafloor mapping will focus on deep-sea phenomena and ecosystems including methane seeps, hydrothermal vents, and deepwater coral communities in addition to conducting field tests of novel technologies. Most of the world’s deep ocean remains largely unexplored, leaving significant gaps in knowledge needed to manage and protect ocean resources and to understand and predict future change.

Continuing into our fifth year of partnership with Ocean Networks Canada, Nautilus will provide maintenance and support to the deep-sea NEPTUNE observatory of scientific instruments and sensors located off the west coast of British Columbia. This network spans diverse environments ranging from hydrothermal vents to a mid-ocean ridge, providing scientists with a unique platform to receive real-time data over the internet.

With our partners at the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, we will explore along the Pacific Northwest coast, including biological communities near thousands of methane seeps identified in this region over the past decade. Along California’s coast, we will investigate and sample deep-sea coral, sponge, and other ecologically important habitats within multiple national marine sanctuaries--deemed to be of irreplaceable national significance--to inform management and conservation

ROV Hercules surveys spongs
Ocean Exploration Trust
ROV Hercules surveys an enormous glass sponge while exploring the seafloor.

Working along Southern California, the Nautilus team will document mineral-rich ecosystems identified as potential resource extraction areas, acquiring baseline information to inform future management of the newly-emerging “blue economy.” In this region, we will also continue a multi-year program to find ancient submerged caves and paleo-shorelines, utilizing mapping and imaging technologies and testing emerging autonomous vehicle systems.

More than 80% of the world’s seafloor is still not mapped and the Eastern Pacific is no exception. This expedition season will also include extensive collection of high-resolution mapping data as we complete gaps in seafloor coverage within the U.S Exclusive Economic Zone, and contribute data to the global Seabed 2030 initiative to fully map the world’s oceans.

2020 Expedition Sponsors