2016 Hohonu Moana: Exploring Deep Waters off Hawai'i

Background Information

The essays below will help you to understand the goals and objectives of the mission and provide additional context and information about the places being explored and the science, tools, and technologies being used.

Hohonu Moana means "deep ocean" in the Hawaiian language. Learn to pronounce the expedition title here.

Download a fact sheet (pdf, 2.0 MB) about the expedition.

  • Mission Plan

    February 25 - March 18, 2016  |  By Brian Kennedy, Daniel Wagner, Jonathan Tree, and Christopher Kelley

    The project area to be explored within and around Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (white boundary) with possible dive sites.

    From February 25 to March 18, 2016, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer will explore largely uncharted deep-sea ecosystems and seafloor in and around the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. During the 2016 Hohonu Moana: Exploring the Deep Waters off Hawai’i expedition, our at-sea and shore-based science teams will work together to make some of the first deepwater scientific observations in this area.

    Read more
  • Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

    By Toni Parras

    A map of the Hawaiian Archipelago showing the location of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (blue outlined area).

    Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) is one of the largest and most remote marine protected areas (MPAs) on the globe, and as a result is home to a myriad of fascinating biological, geological, and cultural features.

    Read more
  • The Search for the Japanese Aircraft Carriers of the Battle of Midway

    By Jonathan Parshall

    Author's depiction of Japanese carrier force just prior to launching an initial attack on the island of Midway, June 4, 1942.

    The Battle of Midway was the single most important naval engagement of World War II. Occurring just six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the resounding American victory at Midway checked what had been an almost unbroken string of Japanese victories during the opening phase of the Pacific War. During a battle that stretched from June 4-7, 1942, the Japanese lost their four finest aircraft carriers—Akagi, Kaga, Hiryū and Sōryū—along with nearly 250 aircraft and over 3,000 sailors killed. In return, the Americans lost the carrier Yorktown, and around 300 men.

    Read more
  • Deep-sea Corals: A Primer

    By Scott C. France

    Colonies of Hawaiian bubblegum coral at 350 meters depth with anemones, brittle stars, and other animals living in their branches.

    If you think of tropical Hawaii and corals, likely what immediately jumps to mind is snorkeling over gorgeous coral reefs teeming with colorful fish. But much deeper below the waves, beyond the depths at which sunlight-dependent reef-forming corals can grow, exists the hidden, perpetually dark world of deep-sea corals.

    Read more
  • The History of Mapping and Deep Diving in the Monuments of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and Johnston Atoll

    By Christopher Kelley and John Smith

    The UH swath ship, R/V Kilo Moana.
    Pisces 5 submersible.

    The relationship between mapping and deep water diving using submersibles or remotely operated vehicles is the same as the relationship between a brother and sister. They grow up together and depend on each other for context. How can a brother or sister represent their family without his or her sibling? And how can you interpret what you see during a dive without knowing where you were and what type of feature you were diving on? Likewise, how can you find out what incredible biology is living on the seafloor from a map?

    Read more
  • Seamounts: Underwater Islands of the Pacific

    By Les Watling

    Two unnamed seamounts located southwest of Midway Atoll.

    The deep seafloor, far from being a smooth muddy plain, is home to a large number of undersea mountains. By definition seamounts are geological structures more than 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) high, but most are much taller than that, rising from the seafloor at about 5,000 meters depth to within a few hundred meters of the ocean surface. Or, occasionally breaking the sea surface in which case they are then called islands.

    Read more