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2019 Nautilus Expedition in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Overview | MBNMS Specific | "Dive Into Deep Sea Exploration"
For Teachers | Flyer (382K 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 13th to OCTOBER 18th





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 2019

During this part of the expedition, scientists will explore and further characterize the “octopus garden”, a deep-water (>10,000 feet) region within the borders of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. In October 2018, scientists discovered extensive aggregations of over 1,000 brooding female octopuses. This area was not fully explored and will be the first objective of this cruise. A dive at the octopus garden on March 28, 2019, using the deep-diving submersible Alvin, discovered additional aggregations of 200+ brooding females and has influenced specific dive objectives. Additional goals include the characterization of corals and sponges in unexplored regions to the north of the "octopus garden."

In 2008, 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.

"Dive Into Deep Sea Exploration" at the Sanctuary Exploration Center:


Just like scientists aboard the E/V Nautilus, experience deep sea exploration and learn hands-on how scientists explore the Deep Sea! Design and build your own Remotely Operated Vehicle, then test it in our Deep Sea Canyon Exhibit. Test your ROV’s skills and compete with other participants by completing challenges in our Deep Sea Tank. This course is open to all ages 6 and up! Kids 6-11 must bring an accompanying adult helper to class. Adult helpers do not need to register for the course. Registration is required! Pl;ease visit to purchase your tickets.

Dates: Saturday, October 19th, 2019 or
Saterday, October 26th, 2019
Time: 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM ROV building activity
Location: Sanctuary Exploration Center
35 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060


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 14 - 17, 2019? Contact Amity Wood at (831) 647-4255 or email by October 1st to schedule your program.




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

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.