Archived Expeditions

The NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) has been documenting research expeditions to explore previously unvisited areas of the ocean on this website since 2001. Below are links to archived web coverage of expeditions supported by OER between 2001-2009.

You can also browse OER-supported expeditions taking place from 2010 through present by topic, by location, or by year.

Access data collected during past expeditions via the Digital Atlas.

Jump to year:

2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001


Bermuda: Search for Deep-water Caves 2009

December 2009: See how scientists set out on a series of expeditions in the seas surrounding Bermuda, searching for deep-water caves.

Russian-U.S. Arctic Census 2009

November 2009: During the 2009 Russian-American Long-Term Census of the Arctic (RUSALCA) expedition, scientists once again visited the Bering Strait and northwards to the Pacific side of the Arctic Ocean, as they did in 2004.

Exploring the Submerged New World 2009

October 2009: Scientists explored the North American Florida Middle Grounds for traces of early human occupation on a submerged late Pleistocene landscape.

Lophelia II 2009: Deepwater Coral Expedition: Reefs, Rigs, and Wrecks

August 2009: Scientists returned to the Gulf of Mexico to collect data related to cold water corals, including coral habitats, their levels of genetic connectivity, and the distribution of their communities.

The Extended Continental Shelf Project 2009

August 2009: NOAA joined a multi-agency joint expedition that brought together icebreakers from the U.S. and Canada to collect and share data useful to both countries in defining the full extent of the Arctic continental shelf.

Bioluminescence 2009: Living Light on the Deep Sea Floor

July 2009: Scientists explored the fascinating phenomenon of bioluminescence, rarely found on land, yet common in species throughout the world ocean.

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer: Getting It Together

June 2009: Refitting a ship to conduct deep-ocean exploration, installing complex, high-tech equipment and systems to enable remote access to data and information from sea, and building out and installing deep water dual-body remotely operated vehicles with an associated state-of-the-art control room—all monumental efforts. See how we did it!

Northeast Lau Response Cruise

May 2009: Scientists traveled to the sites of two recent underwater volcano eruptions in the Northeast Lau Basin and discovered new insights on eruptive phenomena in this environment.

Bahamas Deep-Sea Corals 2009

March 2009: The science team explored the deep slopes of the Northern Bahamas, looking for deep-sea communities of octocorals to determine if the coral species and their associated fauna living in the subtropical Bahamas are the same as those on the seamounts to the north.


Lophelia II 2008: Deepwater Coral Expedition: Reefs, Rigs, and Wrecks

September 2008: Scientists used a combination of remote sensing, quantitative community collections, and genetic analyses to further understanding of cold-water corals and the communities associated with them.

Thunder Bay Sinkholes 2008

September 2008: Scientists explored shallow and deep coastal sinkholes in Lake Huron to understand the unique ecology found in these systems.

AUVfest 2008: Navy Mine-hunting Robots Help NOAA Explore Sunken History

October 2008: Scientists explored the North American Florida Middle Grounds for traces of early human occupation on a submerged late Pleistocene landscape.

Search for Trouvadore 2008

October 2008: A team of maritime archaeologists returned to the wreck sites of the slave ship Trouvadore, first identified during a 2006 expedition off the coast of East Caicos in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Northeastern Gulf of Mexico 2008

July 2008: A team of maritime archaeologists returned to the Northeastern Gulf of Mexico to study inundated late Pleistocene landscapes and how these features may give clues to Florida's first "snowbirds."

Bonaire 2008: Exploring Coral Reef Sustainability with New Technologies

January 2008: Scientists on this expedition used autonomous underwater vehicles to survey the most pristine coral reef environment in the Caribbean.


Exploring the Inner Space of the Celebes Sea 2007

September - October 2007: This expedition ventured to unexplored waters south of the Philippine Islands. Follow along as scientists searched for the strange, and possibly unknown, fishes, jellies, squids, and shrimp that live in the dark, deep waters of the Celebes Sea.

Okeanos Explorer: A New Paradigm for Exploration

August 2007: Telepresence technology on board the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer is used to provide scientists and the public video, images, and data in real time.

Submarine Ring of Fire 2007

July - August 2007: Scientists returned to the Kermadec Arc to explore in great detail the Brothers submarine volcano. This research marked the most comprehensive exploration of this type of arc volcano, which is one of the most vigorous geothermaly active underwater volcanoes yet discovered.

Expedition to the Deep Slope 2007

June 2007: Scientists revisited previous discoveries and explored new areas as they studied hydrocarbon seep communities found in waters deeper than 1,000 meters in the Gulf of Mexico.

Cumberland Club 2007

June 2007: The Hampton Roads Naval Museum and NOAA held a summer enrichment program, giving students the opportunity to experience being a historian, archeologist and marine scientist.

Cayman Islands Twilight Zone 2007

May 2007: Highly trained technical divers mounted an expedition into the rarely explored Cayman Islands Twilight Zone.


Sounds of the Southern Ocean 2006

November - December 2006: A team travels to the Antarctic to study the dynamic tectonic and volcanic environment of the Bransfield Strait and Drake Passage.

Operation Laser Line 2006

November 2006: Explorers used new laser technology to examine coral reefs, fishing sites, and a World War II aircraft wreck off the coast of Maui.


November 2006: Discover the unusual forms of life that exist in the cold, deep waters off New Zealand

Tracking Narwhals in Greenland

August 2006 - March 2007: Scientists attached sensors to deep-diving narwhals to uncover their secrets and better understand Arctic waters.

South Atlantic Bight 2006

August 2006: Scientists used state-of-the-art sonar to rapidly map rock, coral, and other physically and biogenically formed bottom features of the outer continental shelf and upper slope off South Carolina.

The Search for Trouvadore

July 2006: A team of explorers uncovered the history of the 19th century slave trade as they search for the wreck of the Trouvadore.

Project PHAEDRA 2006

June - July 2006: An international team of engineers, geologists, geochemists, and historians explored deep sites within Greek national waters using a combination of deep submergence technologies with integrated technological systems to collect data to answer questions fundamental to both social science and Earth science.

Olympic Coast 2006

May - June 2006: A research team documented deep-sea coral and sponge communities in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

Expedition to the Deep Slope 2006

May - June 2006: Scientists conducted the first systematic exploration of hydrocarbon seep communities in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Aegean and Black Sea 2006

April - June 2006: Scientists studied the archaeology and geology of the Aegean and Black Seas. Follow as they explored this ancient crossroads of maritime activity with Dr. Robert Ballard, discoverer of the Titanic.

Submarine Ring of Fire 2006

April - May 2006: Scientists returned to explore active submarine volcanoes lying along the Mariana Arc, extending for more than 800 nautical miles.

Alaska's Submerged Heritage 2006

April 2006: Nearly half of the United States ocean coastline falls within the boundaries of the State of Alaska. The state’s continental shelf is the final resting place for more than 4,000 known shipwrecks. See how scientists discovered some of Alaska's submerged heritage

Davidson Seamount: Exploring Ancient Coral Gardens

January - February 2006: Scientists explored the cold waters of the Davidson Seamount at depths of 4,100 to 12,000 feet (1,250 to 3,660 meters) off the Central California coastline.


GalAPAGoS: Where Ridge Meets Hotspot

December 2005 - January 2006: Scientists on this expedition surveyed the ocean floor north of the Galapagos Islands, looking for underwater volcanoes and oceanic hotspots.

Sounds of the Southern Ocean

December 2005: Scientists deployed an array of Autonomous Underwater Hydrophones (AUH) that will be recovered in 2006. When the AUH array is recovered, captured sounds will enable identification of volcanically active regions on the seafloor as well as the location of critical habitat for baleen whales.

Florida Coast Deep Corals 2005

November 2005: Unlike shallow-water tropical reefs, deep-water reefs are not well known. The data gathered during the Florida Coast Deep Corals 2005 expedition provided a strong foundation of information on the deep-water coral ecosystems off the Florida coast.

Life on the Edge 2005

October - November 2005: Scientists returned to the waters off the East Coast of the U.S. to explore the continental slope coral ecosystems. Increasing evidence shows that deep-water corals are important fish habitats, hold information on ocean climate and productivity, and are hotspots for biodiversity.

Operation Deep Scope 2005

August - September 2005: Scientists returned to explore the benthic creatures of the Northern Gulf of Mexico, hoping to continue an astonishing array of discoveries, including that of a fluorescent shark, fluorescent methane hydrates, and a new species of large deep-sea squid.

North Atlantic Stepping Stones 2005

August - September 2005: Scientists studied the very old New England and Corner Stone seamount chains to help them understand the distribution of deep-sea biodiversity.

The Lost City 2005

July - August 2005: This exploration introduced a new methodology for marine fieldwork, as scientists used satellites to view and analyze data without being on a ship at sea.

Aquarius Habitat

July 2005: The Aquarius Project was an intensive week of ocean science and discovery for a nationally selected group of six Girl Scouts sponsored by NOAA, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, and Girl Scouts of America.

The Hidden Ocean, Arctic 2005

June - July 2005: Scientists participated in a collaborative effort to explore the frigid depths of the Canada Basin, located in one of the deepest parts of the Arctic Ocean.

Galápagos Rift 2005

May - June 2005: Scientists returned to a discovery found just over a quarter-century ago on the bottom of the eastern Pacific Ocean: Thriving at deep-sea vents was a community of tubeworms, giant clams, white crabs, and other species never before seen by people. This discovery forever changed our understanding of our planet and life on it.

New Zealand American Submarine Ring of Fire 2005

April - May 2005: Scientists explored the active submarine volcanoes along the Kermadec Arc, located north of New Zealand, with a pair of manned submersibles, the PISCES IV and V.

Vailulu’u 2005

March - July 2005: Scientists explored the Vailulu'u underwater volcano that lies approximately 20 miles east of Ta'u Island in American Samoa.


Deep Sea Precious Corals

October 2004: Scientists examined the coral-associated invertebrate fauna at three large precious coral beds in the Hawaiian Archipelago, the Makapu'u Bed, on the southeast slope of Oahu, the Keahole Bed, on the western slope of Hawaii, and the Cross Seamount Bed.

Deep Water Macroalgal Meadows 2004

September - December 2004: Discover why the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands are rich with a high diversity of tropical algae (seaweed, or limu) and other marine life.

Search for the USS 0-9

September 2004: Scientists tried shed some light on what happened to the ill-fated American submarine, the USS 0-9.

The Ocracoke Shipwreck Survey 2004

August - October 2004: Scientists on the Ocracoke Shipwreck Survey were seeking to discover the remains of America's lost maritime heritage through exploration and discovery of submerged cultural resources, primarily focusing on shipwrecks.

Estuary to the Abyss

August 2004: Scientists worked along a "Latitude 31-30 Transect" line that extends from the coast to the deep sea. The expedition concentrated on deeper waters (greater than 400 meters) of the Transect, to complement previous studies of shallow-water faunas.

Operation Deep Scope

August 2004: The science team used advanced camera systems and light-tight traps to explore the benthic creatures of the Northern Gulf of Mexico - one of the most geologically complex regions on the planet.

Gulf of Alaska 2004

August 2004: The expedition party dove to 3,500 meters to conduct biological and geological investigations on five submerged volcanoes over a 400-nautical-mile section of the Northeast Pacific.

World War II Shipwreck Survey

July - August 2004: Scientists ventured into the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico to learn the long-term effect of man-made structures on the deep sea, and conversely, the effect of the environment on those structures.

Russian-U.S. Arctic Census 2004

July - August 2004: A team of U.S. and Russian scientists embarked on an exploration of the Bering and Chukchi Seas, an area thought be particularly sensitive to global climate change.

Kad'yak 2004

July 2004: Scientists investigated the wreck of the Kad'yak, a Russian-American Company bark-rigged sailing vessel. In the final years before the United States purchased Alaska in 1867, the ship carried trade goods between Russian settlements and the Hawaiian Islands.

Life on the Edge 2004

June 2004: A collaborative team of scientists continued and expanded their work in the deep-water habitats that exist in the transition zone between the continental shelf and the deep sea off the U.S. Atlantic coast.

Hunt for the USS Alligator

Summer 2004: The Underwater Archaeology Branch of the Naval Historical Center conducted a remote-sensing survey of a portion of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to locate, identify, and document what remains of the United States Schooner Alligator.

Titanic 2004

May - June 2004: Nearly 20 years after first finding the sunken remains of the R.M.S. Titanic, marine explorer Robert Ballard returned to help study the ship's rapid deterioration.

Mountains in the Sea 2004

May 2004: Scientists returned to document and try to understand the octocoral communities of the New England Seamounts.

Sunken Warbirds

May 2004: Aircraft wrecks lost in Lake Michigan have long held Navy interest. In 2004, a U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Area Search Detachment team, under the guidance the Naval Historical Center, conducted a week-long remote sensing survey of the southern portion of Lake Michigan looking for these sunken historic World War II vintage aircraft.

Submarine Ring of Fire 2004

March - April 2004: An interdisciplinary team of scientists returned to the submarine volcanoes of the Mariana Arc to explore using an underwater tethered robot (ROPOS).

Aquarius Habitat 2004

2004: Two opportunities existed to visit the world’s only undersea laboratory, including an essay contest and a Girl Scout project.



October 2003: In July 1942, the German U-boat 166 was attacked and sank by the U.S. Navy. The science team that discovered the wreck in 2001 returned to study the submarine.

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI)

September - November 2003: A multidisciplinary team explored the pristine reefs and seamounts of the NWHI, a remote chain of small islands and atolls stretching 1,200 nautical miles northwest of the main Hawaiian Islands.

Gulf of Mexico Habitats

September - October 2003: An interdisciplinary scientific team spent 12 days exploring deep-sea coral habitats in the Northern Gulf of Mexico.

Deep-sea Medicines

September 2003: A team studied marine organisms found in deep-water habitats in the Gulf of Mexico as potential sources of new drugs.

Steamship Portland

September 2003: The steamship Portland and all aboard were lost in 1898 during a massive storm off New England. A team dove on the wreck to unravel the mystery behind the sinking.

Arctic 2003

September 2003: A team mapped parts of the world’s least explored ocean, the Arctic. The expedition covered the Chukchi and Northwind Ridge.

Quest for the Gaspee

August - October 2003: The British warship Gaspee's burning by disgruntled colonists in 1773 ranks alongside the Boston Tea Party as a galvanizing step on the road to the American Revolution. A team looked for the sunken vessel this summer.

Charleston Bump

August 2003: Scientists investigated how fishes and invertebrates adapt to a variety of bottom habitats and strong, shifting currents along the rocky, erosion-resistant Charleston Bump.

Life on the Edge

August 2003: A team examined unexplored deep reef habitats off the Carolinas and defined their faunal composition.

Windows to the Deep

July - August 2003: Scientists used the Alvin submersible and other tools to explore the biology, physics, and chemistry of seafloor methane seeps at water depths of 2,000 meters to 2,800 meters off the coast of the southeastern U.S.

Black Sea

July - August 2003: A science team explored the preserved shipwrecks of the Black Sea.

Mountains in the Sea

July 2003: Explorers visited several little-known seamounts in the North Atlantic to study various aspects of deep-sea octocorals and other organisms living on and around these submerged mountains.


June - July 2003: Scientists returned to the Titantic to assess the wreck site in its current condition and provide an opportunity to conduct scientific observations for ongoing research.

Kick'em Jenny Volcano

March 2003: A science team evaluated Kick'em Jenny, the most active underwater volcano in the West Indies.

Submarine Ring of Fire 2003

February - March 2003: An interdisciplinary team of scientists explored the submarine volcanoes of the Mariana Arc lying north of Guam in the western Pacific.

Puerto Rico Trench

February - March 2003: A science team attempted to develop the first coherent high-resolution bathymetric map of the Puerto Rico Trench.

Gulf of Mexico Deep Sea Biology

February 2003: A student team studied the reproductive biology and biochemistry of cold-seep mussels and various other seasonally reproducing deep-sea animals.

Aquarius Habitat 2003

2003: Two opportunities existed to visit the world’s only undersea laboratory, including an essay contest and a Girl Scout project.


Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

September - November 2002: A team of scientists traveled to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, a remote chain of small islands and atolls, to view unexplored seamounts and map pristine coral reefs.

Arctic Exploration

August - September 2002: An international team explored the frigid depths of the remote Canada Basin, located in the Arctic Ocean. Due to the region's heavy year-round ice cover, this expedition was the first one of its kind.

Hudson Canyon

August - September 2002: An exploration team mapped a significant portion of the slope and rise to the east and west of the Hudson Canyon, off New York and New Jersey.

Tribal Journeys

August 2002: Tribal Journeys was an event among many in a cultural resurgence among Northwest Coast Native Americans and First Nations. Staff from NOAA’s Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary played a small role in helping and documenting the journey as a gift to the Tribes and Nations.

Continuing the Lewis and Clark Legacy

August 2002: Based on the exciting results of the 2001 mission to Heceta Bank, an exploration team used modern tools to study the submerged ancient shorelines of the U.S. northwest coast.

The Sustainable Seas Expeditions

July - August 2002: Sustainable Seas was a five-year project of underwater exploration and discovery of the marine world with special emphasis on the national marine sanctuaries of the United States.

Islands in the Stream 2002

July - August 2002: "Islands in the Stream 2002: Exploring Underwater Oases" consisted of four scientific investigations to study the continental shelf break and slope from the eastern coast of Florida to North Carolina — an area known as the South Atlantic Bight.

Chemosynthetic Life in the Gulf of Mexico

June - October 2002: A team explored and studied the communities of animals found around deep-sea oil seeps to improve our understanding of the lush habitats that thrive in the absence of sunlight.

Monitor Expedition 2002

June - October 2002: Monitor Expedition 2002 was the final phase of a multi-year effort to recover the wreck of this famous Civil War ironclad, located 20 miles off the coast of North Carolina.

Submarine Ring of Fire 2002

June - August 2002: An interdisciplinary exploration team used new technology to investigate the birth of new ocean crust off the coast of western North America, part of the Pacific "Ring of Fire."

Exploring Alaska's Seamounts

June - July 2002: Scientists studied several unexplored seamounts in the Gulf of Alaska to understand how they formed and to determine their volcanic history.

Galapagos Rift

May - June 2002: To mark the 25th anniversary of the historic discovery of deep-sea hydrothermal vents at the Galápagos Rift, a team of scientists from NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and several universities revisited the Galapagos Rift.

Sound in the Sea - SIRENA

May - June 2002: Scientists sailed on the French research vessel Le Suroit to deploy six continuously recording hydrophones around the Mid-Atlantic Ridge north of the Azores.

Davidson Seamount

May 2002: A team explored the Davidson seamount with remotely operated vehicles. Extensive video surveying and biological sampling shed light on this little known undersea island.

Sanctuary Quest

April - September 2002: Aboard the McArthur, the Sanctuary Quest Expedition team conducted research, exploration, and monitoring within and adjacent to a system of national marine sanctuaries along the Pacific coast.

The Link Project: A Partnership between NOAA and NASA

Spring 2002: The Link Project fostered collaboration between ocean and space scientists and engineers and promoted the benefits to humankind of ocean and space exploration, research, and related technology development.

Census of Marine Life

2002: The Census of Marine Life is an international research effort to assess and explain the diversity, distribution, and abundance of marine organisms throughout the world’s oceans. Read about some of these efforts.


2002: Located 20 meters beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, next to deep coral reefs in the Florida Keys, Aquarius is the world’s only undersea laboratory. Read about an essay contest and a Girl Scout project to visit the underwater habitat.


Laser Line Scan (LLS)

November 2001: Laser Line Scan (LLS) is an electro-optic imaging technique designed to provide the efficiency and spatial coverage of a remote survey system, at an image resolution approaching that of visual observations. During this expedition, LLS was field tested off the California coast.

Deep East: Deep Sea Resources off the U.S. Eastern Seaboard

September 2001: A team characterized deep-sea ecosystems from New England to Georgia with a manned submersible. The three target areas included Georges Bank Canyons, Hudson Canyon, and Blake Ridge.

Sound in the Sea: Acoustic Monitoring at Pioneer Seamount

August 2001: A team improved our understanding of the sources of ocean noise by installing a vertical hydrophone array off the coast of central California.

The Search for the USS S-5

July 2001: The exact location of the lost Navy submarine, USS S-5, was discovered during this exploration.

Next Generation Tools: Multibeam Side-scan Sonar

June - July 2001: Scientists used an experimental system which was, at the time, one of only three in the world, to characterize very small-scale environments in Alaska.

Continuing the Lewis and Clark Legacy

June - July 2001: A team mapped the Columbia River's offshore canyon and characterized its physical and biological systems. Astoria Canyon, the westernmost portion of the river's drainage system, is a virtually unexplored biological haven.

Thunder Bay ECHO: Acoustic Surveying of Shipwreck Alley

June 2001: During this project, scientists used a new side-scan sonar system to identify shipwrecks in the historic area that became the 13th U.S. National Marine Sanctuary. More than 100 vessels are believed to rest here, but only 40 had been located prior to this mission.

Islands in the Stream

May - August 2001: Scientists explored coral reef and hard-bottom communities throughout the Gulf of Mexico. A special focus was the effects of currents on the life cycles and migration patterns of various species.

Preserving the USS Monitor

April - October 2001: This exploration focused on the mid-summer recovery of the Monitor's engine, a key step toward recovering of the ship's central turret. This is part of a multi-year project designed to preserve this historic Civil War vessel for future generations.