Maui News

Ocean Exploration Trust launches 2024 expedition to map unknown areas of the Pacific Ocean 

Listen to this Article
5 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

  • Nautilus ship. PC: Ocean Exploration Trust
  • Nautilus ship. PC: Ocean Exploration Trust
  • Seafloor mapping PC: Ocean Exploration Trust
  • Corps of exploration. PC: Ocean Exploration Trust
  • ROV Hercules. PC: Ocean Exploration Trust
  • ROV Operations. PC: Ocean Exploration Trust

An eight month-long exploration of unsurveyed seafloors across the Eastern, Central and Western Pacific, from Hawaiʻi to Canada, will bring views of never-before-seen seafloor to the world this year.

The Ocean Exploration Trust is gearing up to embark on one of their widest ranging expeditions ever, beginning today. The expeditions will take them to seafloors in Hawaiʻi, American Samoa, US Pacific Remote Islands, Guam, Palau and Canada.

“The vast majority of the Earth’s seafloor and the quintillion gallons of ocean above it have never been scientifically explored, leaving large knowledge gaps that hinder our ability to manage the resources within our planet’s largest ecosystem effectively,” said Allison Fundis, COO of Ocean Exploration Trust.

The expedition will also engage participants in as simple as a few clicks. From May to December 2024, as part of the 2024 expedition season aboard Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus, E/V Nautilus expeditions will be made available to the public in real-time through live-streamed video on, a 24-hour portal bringing expeditions from the field to people on shore via telepresence technology.

“While our 2024 Nautilus expeditions will contribute to the monumental effort of filling these gaps, using them as a way to inspire curiosity about the ocean and build a more inclusive ocean exploration community is also paramount to our mission,” said Fundis.


Ocean Exploration Trust invites anyone to join in characterizing deep-sea habitats through detailed remotely operated vehicle (ROV) observation and emerging technologies to help accelerate the pace of learning about the ocean.

In addition to viewing, participants will be able to ask the at-sea team questions via the website and can also follow expeditions with behind-the-scenes updates on social media. The team of science, technology, engineering, arts & humanities and mathematics (STEAM) professionals will also connect directly to classrooms via free educational Q&A interactions from the onboard broadcast studio. An ongoing series of live events on social media will also highlight expedition overviews and STEAM career features. Additionally, OET offers 150+ free STEAM education resources for K-12 learners in English, Spanish, and ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, including national-standard aligned activities, engineering design challenges, and creative projects for learners in the classroom or at home. 

The goals of these expeditions are based on community input from scientists and resource managers as well as from local communities and stakeholders in the regions where the expeditions will take place. The expeditions will also contribute to the oceans being better understood by supporting international scientific and US governmental priorities, particularly understanding ocean changes, sharing that knowledge with others and contributing new discoveries and data that will inform future conservation and resource management decisions, according to the Ocean Exploration Trust.

Specifically, the Ocean Exploration Trust has committed to open sharing of data collected during the expedition, while its mapping and ROV operations directly contribute to the US National Strategy for Open Mapping, Exploration and Characterization, the Ocean Networks Strategic Plan, Seabed 2030 maps and the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

The 2024 E/V Nautilus expeditions are sponsored primarily by NOAA Ocean Exploration via the Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute (OECI), with additional support from Ocean Networks Canada, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the Office of Naval Research.  


“The upcoming E/V Nautilus season serves as a nexus that brings together the talent and experience of the OECI affiliate institutions to test new technologies and operations, all while fulfilling the mission to explore the unknown parts of the ocean,” said Dr. Adam Soule, OECI  executive director.

2024 Expeditions

2024 Expedition Season Map. PC: Ocean Exploration Trust

Mapping the Gaps Northbound | May 25 – June 4, 2024

This expedition is a seafloor mapping transit that brings E/V Nautilus from the Central to the Eastern Pacific Ocean. This 10-day expedition will start in Honolulu and end in Sidney (British Columbia) and utilize the deep-water mapping capabilities of E/V Nautilus to map previously uncharted seafloor enroute. Collected bathymetry data will be used to fill gaps in seabed mapping and thereby support priorities of Seabed 2030, the Ocean Networks Canada Strategic Plan, and the US National Strategy for Mapping, Exploration, and Characterization.

#ONCAbyss Summer 2024 | June 6 – 27, 2024

This 21-day expedition brings E/V Nautilus to the Northeastern Pacific Ocean for the eighth year of the partnership between Ocean Networks Canada and OET. The main objective of this expedition (which begins and ends in Sidney, British Columbia) is to provide maintenance and support of Ocean Networks Canada’s cabled observatory NEPTUNE (Northeast Pacific Undersea Networked Experiments), located off the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. The cabled observatory consists of an 800-kilometer loop where fiber optic-connected technologies gather thousands of observations about dynamics across an entire tectonic plate with high-resolution temporal observations not afforded by traditional ship-based exploration. 


Mapping the Gaps Southbound | June 29 – July 9, 2024

This expedition is a seafloor mapping mission to bring E/V Nautilus from British Columbia back to the Central Pacific for subsequent expeditions of the 2024 field season. This 10-day transit route will fill gaps in seabed mapping within and beyond the US EEZ and thereby support priorities of Seabed 2030, the Ocean Networks Canada Strategic Plan, and the US National Strategy for Mapping, Exploration, and Characterization. Starting in Sidney (British Columbia) and ending in Honolulu, we will utilize the deep-water mapping capabilities of E/V Nautilus to map previously uncharted seafloor.

Ancient Seamounts of Jarvis Island | July 12 – Aug. 6, 2024

The Pacific Remote Island Marine National Monument (PRIMNM)’s Jarvis Unit protects near-shore coral reef ecosystems and deep-sea systems like seamounts, ridges, and canyons. Expanding on mapping data collected in the final expedition of the 2023 season, the team will use remotely operated vehicles to explore deep-sea habitats near Jarvis Island in an area proposed for designation as a new US National Marine Sanctuary. This 25-day expedition begins in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, and ends in Pago Pago, American Samoa. 

Exploring Vailulu’u Seamount | Aug. 10 – 28, 2024

Over the last three years, the Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute has been advancing the integration of multiple exploration technologies aboard E/V Nautilus, and this year, we bring these new capacities to American Samoa. This 18-day telepresence-enabled expedition starting and ending in Pago Pago, American Samoa,  will utilize University of New Hampshire’s uncrewed surface vehicle DriX, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s autonomous underwater vehicle Mesobot, and the University of Rhode Island’s Deep Autonomous Profiler to explore the dynamic seafloor and water column habitats surrounding Vailulu’u Seamount, in addition to midwater and other unexplored deep-sea habitats in the region.

Exploring the Waters of American Samoa | Sept. 1 – 24, 2024

This expedition, which begins and ends in Pago Pago, American Samoa, will explore deep-sea habitats around American Samoa in collaboration with the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa (NMSAS) and other partners, providing data needed from deep ocean areas to inform resource management and conservation priorities. This expedition will use E/V Nautilus’ remotely operated vehicles and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Sentry to expand the amount of exploration possible within this 23-day expedition.

Seafloor Mapping Offshore Howland and Baker Islands | Sept. 28 – Oct. 25, 2024

The US Exclusive Economic Zone around Howland and Baker Islands represents one of the least explored regions under US jurisdiction. This expedition will use the mapping capabilities of E/V Nautilus to acquire high-resolution bathymetry in areas where no or little mapping data exists. Crossing the International Date Line, the team will prioritize seamounts, guyots,  and ridges along the transit route, supporting priorities of Seabed 2030 and the US National Strategy for Mapping, Exploration, and Characterization. This 26-day expedition begins in Pago Pago, American Samoa, and concludes in Koror, Palau.

Exploring Palau National Marine Sanctuary | Oct. 29 – Nov. 9, 2024

Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) –protection secured by Euotelel a Klingil a Debel Belau– is one of the most ambitious conservation efforts on Earth. Despite being rich in natural and cultural resources, there is very little data available from deep ocean habitats protected within PNMS. Working closely with the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC), NOAA Ocean Exploration, and other Palauan and US collaborators, OET will lead this 11-day expedition (beginning and ending in Koror, Palau) to gather seafloor mapping data and explore the seafloor with remotely operated vehicles to illuminate deep sea habitats around Palau.

Palau National Marine Sanctuary II | Nov. 11 – 22, 2024

Building on the progress in the first expedition, this 11-day expedition will continue exploring the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) to understand seafloor features and the biodiversity that call deep sea habitats around Palau home. Expedition objectives will continue to be refined as we work with community and scientific partners. The Sanctuary –protection secured by Euotelel a Klingil a Debel Belau– is one of the most ambitious conservation efforts on Earth. This expedition (which will begin and end in Koror, Palau)  will use telepresence technology and OET’s robust outreach and education program to engage broad audiences across Palau and the Pacific Island Region.

Palau to Guam Mapping | Nov. 25 – Dec. 12, 2024

The 2024 field season will end with a seafloor mapping transit bringing E/V Nautilus from Palau to Guam for the overwintering period. This expedition will utilize the deep-water mapping capabilities of E/V Nautilus to map previously uncharted seafloor along the transit route, as well as in targeted areas around Palau and Guam, to support oceanographic monitoring programs by the Office of Naval Research. This will include limited deployments of landers and measurements of nighttime bioluminescence over select sites.  


Sponsored Content

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily or weekly
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Maui Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments