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2018 Nautilus Expedition in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Overview | MBNMS Specific | Live Interaction | For Teachers | Flyer (1.1M PDF)


the Exploration Vessel Nautilus ROV Hercules launches off of the E/V Nautilus. Credit: Claire Fackler/NOAA
Vessel: Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus
(where is the Nautilus now – live map)
Project: Oceanographic and Biological Monitoring of Davidson Seamount in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Expedition Dates: OCTOBER 21st to OCTOBER 31st





This summer and fall, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is teaming up with Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) to explore the marine ecosystems of the West Coast and Hawai‘i. Working aboard the Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus, scientists will map and explore targets throughout the U.S. West Coast from Canada to Southern California, and west to the Hawaiian Islands and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Researchers will conduct mapping operations and use remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to investigate Olympic Coast, Monterey Bay, and Channel Islands national marine sanctuaries as well as Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. You can watch the livestream here.

MBNMS Specific:


small image of map of target areas at Davidson Sea mount on OET Nautilus 2018

During this part of the expedition, scientists will characterize an unexplored, deep-water (>10,000 feet) region within the borders of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. This area is a basaltic rocky reef southeast of Davidson Seamount. Researchers seek to characterize the habitat, species, and communities that live there.

In 2009, Davidson Seamount Management Zone was added to the area protected by Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, expanding the sanctuary area by 775 square miles to a total of 6,094 square miles. Driving Davidson Seamount’s inclusion in the sanctuary was the discovery of communities of long-lived deep-sea corals and sponges during collaborative expeditions by NOAA, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in 2002, 2006, and 2007.

Although previous ROV dives have occurred on Davidson Seamount itself, there is unexplored deep rocky habitat southeast of the seamount that could harbor additional communities of corals and sponges. Through this section of the Nautilus expeditions, researchers intend to use the ROVs Hercules and Argus to document deep-water corals, sponges, and fishes, and collect biological samples. Researchers will also analyze water and sediment samples and collect environmental data that will aid in our understanding of the physical conditions of deep-water habitats.

Live Interaction:


As part of the expedition, the Sanctuary Exploration Center (SEC) is working with OET’s renowned oceanographer Dr. Robert Ballard and his team of scientists to bring real-time ship to shore telepresence interactions in the Center’s auditorium. Dive into a 20-30 minute conversation with live presenters on E/V Nautilus and learn the exploration mission goals and recent deep sea discoveries.

Aboard the E/V Nautilus, the OET and MBNMS team will use the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Hercules to explore uncharted seafloor by capturing video imagery of deep sea communities, including corals, sponges, basket stars, crabs, octopus, and fishes up to 12,000 feet deep!

Join us for a scheduled live interaction at the Sanctuary Exploration Center! Only happening this October, don’t miss this incredible learning opportunity while discovering the mysteries of deep sea environments in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

In addition to this exciting opportunity, the Center will be hosting ROV building activities from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, and again from 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM on Saturday, October 27th and Sunday, October 28th.

Seating in the auditorium is limited, so be sure to arrive early for the 1:00 PM scheduled live interaction!

Dates: Saturday, October 27th, 2018
Sunday, October 28th, 2018
Time: 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM ROV building activity
1:00 PM to 1:30 PM LIVE INTERACTION with E/V Nautilus
1:030 PM to 3:00 PM ROV building activity
Location: Sanctuary Exploration Center
35 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Can’t join us live? Follow the adventure online at!

For Teachers:


Are you a classroom teacher and want to schedule a direct live interaction into your classroom for engagement with your students between October 22-31, 2018? Contact Amity Wood at (831) 647-4255 or email by October 1st to schedule your program.

deep coral communities poster rietta hohman

Deep-sea coral communities, like the ones found in the national marine sanctuaries of the West Coast, are home to many diverse species. This curriculum takes students into the deep sea to identify the soft corals, hard corals, invertebrates, and fish found in these communities and to investigate the unique biology of deep-sea corals. Students also learn the threats these animals face and what we can do help protect them.

This webinar archive provides an introduction to the Deep-Sea Coral Communities educational materials and hands-on activities.


Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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