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Ocean Census joins Johnston Atoll (Pacific) Expedition

27-day expedition led by Ocean Exploration Trust onboard E/V Nautilus will survey deep-sea biodiversity and ancient seamounts.

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Today (2 August) Raissa Hogan, a deep-sea pen specialist at the University of Galway, joins Ocean Exploration Trust’s Johnston Atoll (Pacific) Expedition as an Ocean Census Science Network member scientist, part of a programme of work to build more opportunities for species discovery. The 27-day expedition is led by Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) onboard their 68-meter vessel, E/V Nautilus. The expedition is scheduled to depart from Honolulu, Hawaii on Wednesday 2 August.

The overarching goal of the expedition is to survey deep-sea biodiversity and ancient seamount exploration surrounding Johnston Atoll. Operations using E/V Nautilus’ dual-body ROV system, consisting of the main ROV Hercules and the tow-sled Atalanta, will focus on exploring seafloor areas to maximum depths of 4,000 meters.

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. There is high potential for new species discovery although numbers are impossible to indicate as the area is unexplored.

In the past decade, I have developed a profound interest in deep-sea corals, which have become the primary focus of my research. To study them, I embark on research vessels, often equipped with ROVs, to collect high-quality data directly from their natural habitats. During my PhD I had the opportunity to participate in several deep-sea expeditions using ROVs, where I specialized in studying deep-sea corals. I have also served as a Trustee of the Deep Sea Biology Society, which helped me to expand my network.

To have a career in deep-sea exploration, we must be part of a team, which is a privilege that allows us to exchange a significant amount of knowledge. It is crucial to develop a sense of collaboration and rethink how to contribute to each project and situation. I’m incredibly excited to be joining the upcoming expedition and look forward to working with the OET and Ocean Census.

Raissa Hogan, Ocean Census Science Network member

Raissa gained her Bachelor’s degree in Oceanography from the Federal University of Rio Grande, Brazil before studying Cinematography in Ireland, followed by a Masters in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation through the Erasmus scheme in Belgium and France. She is currently completing her PhD in Zoology at the University of Galway in Ireland.

In 2023, E/V Nautilus will spend eight months exploring the Central and Eastern Pacific, mapping unsurveyed seafloor and characterizing deep-sea habitats through detailed ROV observation, as well as integrating emerging technologies. Mapping and ROV operations will be conducted primarily in unexplored areas.  The integration of different technologies, including autonomous underwater vehicles, into operations on E/V Nautilus, continues to advance national and international priorities for increasing the efficiency and sophistication of multi-vehicle ocean exploration.

The 2023 E/V Nautilus expeditions are supported by NOAA Ocean Exploration. Through OET’s Scientist Ashore Program, other scientists will actively engage with the expedition from shore. Dr Kaveh Samimi-Namin, a marine taxonomist and associate researcher at Naturalis Biodiversity Centre in the Netherlands, Oxford University, and Natural History Museum in the UK with extensive experience in octocoral taxonomy globally, will be participating from shore. Ocean Census Science Director Professor Alex Rogers, Head of Expeditions Dr Sarah-Jane Walsh and Science and Expeditions Manager Dr Denise Swanborn will also be able to observe dives remotely and advise on sampling operations through the OET Science Portal and interact with text-based chat, connecting with real-time information on ship operations and data feeds.

How are Taxonomy and Exploration Connected? Read the blog.

Marine biologists and other professionals working in species discovery are invited to Join the Ocean Census Science Network.

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