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Cruise Report: EX-17-05, Mountains in the Deep: Exploring the Central Pacific Basin (ROV & Mapping)
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  • Description:
    The Mountains in the Deep Expedition (EX1705), conducted from April 27, 2017, to May 19, 2017, onboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, collected valuable new information to support management and science needs throughout the Central Pacific Basin. Operations were conducted in American Samoa and the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, the Cook Islands’ Marae Moana marine park, and in the Jarvis Island and Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef Units of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM as part of the Campaign to Address Pacific monument Science, Technology, and Ocean NEeds (CAPSTONE). During 23 days at sea, the expedition team conducted 12 remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dives—ranging in depth from 230 m and 4,573 m—and mapped over 36,800 km2 of seafloor, an area larger than the US state of Maryland. Although the expedition encountered weather and technical issues, there were several significant discoveries and accomplishments, including the first high-resolution mapping data over a number of features. In several instances, we found significant differences when compared to satellite altimetry data—with multiple instances of an approximate 1,000-meter variation. This expedition also documented 11 high-density communities for the first time, seven of which were high-density deep-sea coral and sponge communities. Other high-density communities included polychaete tube worms, holothurians, and multiple instances of sea urchins. Beyond benthic surveys, this expedition also conducted the first ever midwater exploration in the Jarvis Island and Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef Units of the PRIMNM, and in the vicinity of the northern Manihiki Plateau. This report summarizes operations conducted during EX1705, presents data collected, and provides a high level overview of initial findings.
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