During the week of 9/21-9/25, students actively participated through real-time telepresence with the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer by collecting images and recording quantitative observations from each ROV dive. The cruise allowed participants to explore the previously uncharacterized deep waters of Johnston Atoll in the Hawaiian Archipelago, part of the recently expanded Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. This leg of the Okeanos was investigating seamounts around 2000m to 4000m depth composed of volcanic basalt rock. The unexplored areas were dominated by sponges of the class Hexactinellida, commonly known as glass sponges. Octocorals, such as the genus Chrysogorgia pictured below and bamboo corals (family Isididae), were also common biota seen predominantly on the pinnacles of observed seamounts. As a culmination of the course instruction and data collection, each student is developing a semester project using data gathered during the week long cruise and will present a research poster at the CIOERT Student Symposium on December 4.
Each student submitted a photo and extended caption as part of a NOAA mission log authored by Dennis Hanisak. Students in the class also participated in live Twitter outreach through the Voss Lab handle @VossLaboratory with the hashtag #okeanos. Check back on our Flickr page for a "best of" photo album from this week's ROV dives.