Expedition Summary

April 4-28, NOAA Ocean Exploration conducted an expedition on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer to fill deepwater mapping gaps in the Atlantic’s U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and test deep-sea camera operations.

Some of the remaining mapping gaps in waters deeper than 200 meters (656 feet) are around Puerto Rico. During this expedition, we mapped 26,628 square kilometers (10,281 square miles) of seafloor in Puerto Rico waters alone, making great progress toward filling these gaps. In total, we mapped 3,838 linear kilometers (2,385 miles) and 44,159 square kilometers (17,050 square miles) of seafloor — an area almost five times the size of Puerto Rico — using the ship’s deepwater mapping systems. Discoveries of note included seamounts and other interesting geological features south of Puerto Rico that will be further analyzed by the scientific community. Also, during our transit across the Puerto Rico Trench, we tested the depth capabilities of our new EM 304 multibeam sonar system.

In addition to the standard mapping operations, we also collected and processed water samples for environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis and tested two deep-sea camera systems in partnership with the NOAA Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute. Designed and provided by the Multidisciplinary Instrumentation in Support of Oceanography (MISO) facility at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, these cameras were deployed on a conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD) rosette and reached depths approximating 1,500 meters (4,921 feet). During the tests, the cameras captured images within 4 meters (13 feet) of the seafloor while the ship was still as well as while it was traveling. Given these successes, NOAA Ocean Exploration will consider incorporating deep-sea cameras into standard operations on Okeanos Explorer.

As part of our effort to support future ocean explorers, during the 2022 Puerto Rico Mapping and Deep-Sea Camera Demonstration, we hosted two explorers-in-training and a Knauss fellow and participated in a live interaction with the College of Charleston BEnthic Acoustic Mapping (BEAMS) Program’s inaugural mini-conference.

View the initial Expedition Overview.

New bathymetric coverage in U.S. waters south of Puerto Rico collected during the 2022 Puerto Rico Mapping and Deep-Sea Camera Demonstration expedition.
New bathymetric coverage in U.S. waters south of Puerto Rico collected during the 2022 Puerto Rico Mapping and Deep-Sea Camera Demonstration expedition. Image courtesy of NOAA Ocean Exploration, 2022 Puerto Rico Mapping and Deep-Sea Camera Demonstration. Download largest version (jpg, 9.2 MB).
During the 2022 Puerto Rico Mapping and Deep-Sea Camera Demonstration, our conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD) rosette served multiple purposes. It was used to deploy deep-sea camera systems and to collect water samples for environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis.
During the 2022 Puerto Rico Mapping and Deep-Sea Camera Demonstration, our conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD) rosette served multiple purposes. It was used to deploy deep-sea camera systems and to collect water samples for environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis. Image courtesy of NOAA Ocean Exploration, 2022 Puerto Rico Mapping and Deep-Sea Camera Demonstration. Download largest version (jpg, 5.6 MB).

Operations

The mapping data collected (lines colored by depth in meters) and the general operating area for the 2022 Puerto Rico Mapping and Deep-Sea Camera Demonstration expedition.
The mapping data collected (lines colored by depth in meters) and the general operating area for the 2022 Puerto Rico Mapping and Deep-Sea Camera Demonstration expedition. Image courtesy of NOAA Ocean Exploration, 2022 Puerto Rico Mapping and Deep-Sea Camera Demonstration. Download largest version (jpg, 1.7 MB).

Education Themes

Education theme pages provide the best of what the NOAA Ocean Exploration website has to offer to support your classroom during this expedition. On each theme page, you will find links to expedition features, lessons, multimedia, career information, and associated past expeditions.

Media Contacts

NOAA Ocean Exploration

Emily Crum
Communication Specialist
emily.crum@noaa.gov

NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations

David Hall
Public Affairs Officer
david.l.hall@noaa.gov

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Suzanne Pelisson
Associate Director, Public Relations
media@whoi.edu

NOAA Ocean Exploration’s 2022 Puerto Rico Mapping and Deep-Sea Camera Demonstration expedition contributed to the National Strategy for Exploring, Mapping, and Characterizing the United States Exclusive Economic Zone (PDF, 1.9 MB) and Seabed 2030 and was part of NOAA’s Atlantic Seafloor Partnership for Integrated Research and Exploration (ASPIRE) campaign.

Data collected during this expedition will be available in NOAA’s public data archives within 60-90 days of the end of the expedition and accessible via the NOAA Ocean Exploration Digital Atlas.