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Supporting Ocean Exploration and Data Collection

Image of Okeanos Explorer cruising on surface of ocean by NOAA.
Courtesy of NOAA

We are proud to support the Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) in its efforts to catalog and provide access to data and information from NOAA’s only vessel solely dedicated to ocean exploration, the Okeanos Explorer. Our combined data management efforts deliver rapid and easy data access, facilitate efficient and effective long-term data preservation, and inspire further exploration and research.

Okeanos Explorer’s  remotely operated vehicle (ROV), Deep Discoverer, collects biological, geological, and water samples during dives to help scientists understand more about the physical, chemical, and biological environment of the deep ocean.  NCEI scientists work with OER to assist in the collection of critical baseline information about unknown and poorly understood areas of the ocean. Typically, our staff work as Sample Data Managers to preserve physical data samples and enter information into the Sampling Operations Database Application—a database which NCEI developed and maintains that ties the environmental variables to the physical samples. This “data about the data” follows the physical samples throughout the data's life cycle ending at the long-term repository, such as biological samples being curated at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. 

Live Operations Map

The Okeanos Explorer-Live Operations Map provides near-real-time information regarding the ship’s status (in port versus out to sea), current ship trackline, pertinent bathymetric mosaics, and meteorological readings. This map is hosted through Esri's ArcGIS Online, using cloud technologies. The ship's location and trackline are updated every 10 minutes while on expedition.

OER Video Portal

The OER Video Portal makes searching thousands of hours of high-definition video easy. Since 2010, the Okeanos Explorer has collected hundreds of terabytes—thousands of hours—of video and video products. Viewers have been thrilled to follow along with the voyages of the Okeanos Explorer to catch glimpses of curious marine animals, historic shipwrecks, and amazing geological formations. To address the high demand for these underwater videos, NCEI created the self-service portal for finding, previewing, and downloading these video data.

Benthic Animal Guide

The video data collected during expeditions can be used for many purposes. A good example is the Benthic Deepwater Animal Identification Guide which was created by NCEI with the guidance of Dr. Christopher Kelley of the University of Hawaii. This guide is a collection of high-resolution images of marine animals created from video recorded during the Okeanos Explorer’s 2015-2016 missions in the Pacific Ocean. The guide is organized by major taxa, or scientific units of animals, and is a reference for scientists and anyone else interested in these fascinating deep-sea dwellers.

Together, the OER Live Operations Map, the OER Video Portal, and Benthic Animal Guide allow you to explore the ocean alongside NOAA’s scientists and transform your understanding of the global ocean.

About Okeanos Explorer

NOAA supports exploration of our largely unknown ocean. To understand, manage, and protect the ocean and its resources, NOAA supports ocean exploration efforts. As part of this undertaking, the Okeanos Explorer has traveled the globe since 2010, investigating the geology, marine life, and underwater environments in various parts of the ocean.

Unlike many other NOAA-supported ocean expeditions, shoreside scientists can interact with those onboard Okeanos Explorer. The ship’s telepresence technology allows shoreside scientists to receive near-real-time underwater video, communications, and other scientific data; this technology allows shoreside scientists to add their expertise to missions no matter where in the world Okeanos Explorer is exploring. The ship’s technology also lets you take part in the excitement of ocean exploration and discoveries with live video.

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