Participation Opportunity: Seascape Alaska Expeditions To Increase Understanding of Deep Waters Off Alaska

From May through September 2023, NOAA and partners will conduct the Seascape Alaska series of expeditions on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. The primary goal of these six telepresence-enabled ocean exploration expeditions is improving knowledge about unexplored and poorly understood deepwater areas offshore Alaska, with a particular focus on the Aleutian Islands, Gulf of Alaska, and Aleutian Trench. This work will be done in collaboration with the AleutBio team, building off of data collected during last year’s AleutBio expedition to further explore this region. And you are invited to come along (virtually)!


The expeditions will include mapping operations, remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dives, and autonomous underwater vehicle operations, depending on the expedition. Live video and data from ROV dives and multibeam sonar mapping operations will be shared in real time with shore-based participants and the public, allowing for active participation and observation.


As with all of NOAA Ocean Exploration’s expeditions onboard Okeanos Explorer, these expeditions are an open collaboration with the science community and local stakeholders, indigenous communities, and resource managers. Shore-side science team members can help in planning expeditions beforehand and actively participate in expeditions while underway through activities such as virtually standing watch during ROV dives, providing input into the day-to-day operations of the ship, reviewing the latest data coming off the ship, and assisting in the generation of a standard suite of products.


The kickoff planning call for the Seascape Alaska expeditions will take place on June 8, from 9-11 am AKDT / 1-3 pm ET. Members of the science community are invited to attend and learn more about ways to get involved (advance registration is required). Additional Information about how to participate in expeditions is available.


Collected data will establish a baseline of information to catalyze further exploration, research, and management activities. Once the Seascape Alaska expeditions are over, data collected will be quality assured and then made quickly available to scientists and the public via the NOAA Ocean Exploration Data Atlas, hosted by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.


This Alaska series of expeditions will contribute to Seascape Alaska, a multiyear campaign aimed at creating accessible, high-quality modern seabed data for Alaskan waters to support U.S. research, resource management, sustainable economic growth, and the health and security of Americans. With Alaska’s coastal and ocean waters at just over 1 million square nautical miles in size and 66% unmapped (2023 Progress Report on Unmapped U.S. Waters), the campaign seeks to fully map U.S. waters deeper than 40 meters by 2030 and coastal waters by 2040 through collaborative efforts among federal, tribal, state, and non-governmental partners with a wide range of interests and dependencies on mapping data.  The expeditions on Okeanos Explorer will be a significant contribution to this effort. 


Meredith Westington and Samuel Candido, NOAA

NOAA Ocean Exploration field operations area for 2023 on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. Lines indicate approximate planned tracklines for each expedition. White points represent ports. Credit: NOAA Ocean Exploration
A fogbow seen over the fantail of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer during the transit to the first dive site at the start of the second Voyage to the Ridge 2022 expedition. Credit: NOAA Ocean Exploration