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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 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.

NCEI scientists work on board the Okeanos to assist in the collection of critical baseline information about unknown and poorly known areas of the ocean. Typically, our staff work as Sample Data Managers, entering information into the Sampling Operations Database Application, which NCEI developed and deployed. The Okeanos’ unmanned remotely operated vehicle (ROV), Deep Discoverer, collects the biological, geological, and water specimens during dives to help scientists understand more about the physical, chemical, and biological environment of the deep ocean.

The Okeanos Explorer Atlas

As the ship’s team explores the world’s ocean, we provide online access to information about its current expeditions through the Okeanos Explorer Atlas. With this Atlas, you can get a near real-time picture of the ship’s operational activities as it progresses through each of its missions. You can also access observations, including the meteorological and oceanographic measurements the ship collects, the cumulative image of the seafloor that the ship has mapped, and the location and details about the specimens the science team has collected.

The OER Digital Atlas

After the ship completes each of its missions, we assist in preserving and providing long-term access to the data the team has collected through the OER Digital Atlas. This Atlas contains data and information from over 20 years of OER sponsored missions, including the missions that the Okeanos Explorer has executed since 2008.

Through the Atlas’s interactive map, you can learn more about OER’s past expeditions and access a variety of environmental data, images, video, educational materials, reports, and scientific publications. And, you can explore the expeditions with themes or by using search tools.

The OER Video Portal

Since 2010, the Okeanos Explorer has collected hundreds of terabytes—and thousands of hours—of video and video products. Viewers have been thrilled to follow along with the voyages of the Okeanos to catch glimpses of curious marine animals, historic shipwrecks, and amazing geological formations. As a result, demand for access to these video data is high. So, we created the OER Video Portal, a self-service tool for finding, previewing, and gaining access to these video data. The OER Video Portal makes searching thousands of hours of high-definition video easy.

The 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 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 missions in the Pacific Ocean in 2015 and 2016.  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 Okeanos Explorer Atlas, the OER Digital Atlas, the Benthic Animal Guide, and the OER Video Portal allow you to explore the ocean alongside NOAA’s scientists and transform your understanding of the global ocean.

About the Okeanos Explorer

To understand, manage, and protect the ocean and its resources, NOAA supports exploration of our largely unknown ocean. As part of that undertaking, the Okeanos Explorer has traveled the globe since 2008, investigating the geology, marine life, and underwater environments in various parts of the ocean.

Unlike many other ocean expeditions NOAA supports, most of the scientists participating in Okeanos Explorer missions remain on shore. Via telepresence, scientists receive live images from the seafloor and other scientific data, allowing them to add their expertise to missions no matter where the ship 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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