Regular readers of this blog know that I am a huge fan of ocean exploration, particularly that live-streamed to the world by both NOAA's Okeanos Explorer and Bob Ballard's Nautilus Live.

Tomorrow – Aug. 1 -- commences a two-month series of deep-water ROV dives by Okeanos Explorer in the waters off Hawaii. Specifically, they will visit the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

If you're looking for a way to “visit” these special and especially inaccessible U.S. places, this is your free ticket.


The expedition's ROV dives will travel to depths of 1,300 to 16,250 feet (400 to 5,000 meters), looking for sponge communities, deep-sea coral gardens that may be thousands of years old, and any other weird and wonderful new life forms they may happen to encounter. It will be the first time anyone has ever visited deep seafloor habitats offshore of Johnston Atoll below 400 meters and deeper than 2000 meters in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Sometime in the next few weeks, take some time out of your day to check in on what these guys happen to be looking at. Anyone with an internet connection can participate, and you never know what wonders you might be among the first to see. Live streaming begins tomorrow (and remember they are on Hawaiian time) and will continue until Aug. 22. Click here for the live stream and mission status, and here for daily updates.

Two more legs of the expedition will take place shortly after this leg ends: from Aug. 28 to Sept. 3 Okeanos Explorer will visit the waters off the main Hawaiian Islands and Geologists Seamounts, and from September 7 to 30 they will return to the Johnston Atoll.

Meanwhile, Nautilus Live is in San Diego right now preparing to head out to the Rosebud whale fall.