Ocean Census joined forces with the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) for a 27-day expedition to survey deep-sea biodiversity on the ancient seamounts surrounding Johnston Atoll. Operations aboard the 68-metre E/V Nautilus deployed the dual-body ROV system, consisting of the main ROV Hercules and the tow-sled Atalanta, and focused on exploring seafloor areas to maximum depths of 4,000 metres.
The deep sea surrounding Johnston Atoll is home to some of the most pristine marine ecosystems on Earth. Whilst recent expeditions have increased our baseline knowledge of this remote region, large areas remain completely unexplored with a high potential for the discovery of new species.
Taxonomists Dr Raissa Hogan and Dr Kaveh Samimi-Namin were selected from the Ocean Census Science Network to join the expedition. Dr Hogan, a deep sea sea-pen specialist from the University of Galway, participated during field operations, whilst Dr Samini-Namin, a deep-sea octocoral specialist, contributed remotely, advising on ROV sampling operations through the OET Science Portal and interacting with real-time information on ship operations and data feeds.
The team experienced stunning wildlife. Read on to learn more about the expedition.