Between February and April 2017, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will conduct two telepresence-enabled ocean exploration cruises (virtual reality technology) to collect information of unknown and poorly known deepwater areas in American Samoa and Samoa, specifically the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument (RAMNM) and National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa (NMSAS). During the cruises, the NOAA’s at-sea and on-shore science teams will work together to map the seafloor and make key deepwater scientific observations in these areas. Here are some stunning underwater photos from the region of the marine life.
Why this area?
Most deepwater areas remain poorly known and are of high interest to federal and state agencies with research and management responsibilities. The areas being investigated in Samoa, specifically, contain some of the last relatively pristine marine ecosystems on the planet and harbor numerous protected species, undiscovered shipwrecks, and cultural landscapes. However, their remoteness had previously created substantial challenges.
Rose Atoll Marine National Monument(RAMNM) consists of approximately 13,436 square miles, and supports a dynamic reef ecosystem that is home to a diverse assemblage of marine species, many of which are threatened or endangered. The other location being watched, the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa (NMSAS), covers 13,581 square miles, and supports the greatest diversity of marine life in the National Marine Sanctuary System, and protects extensive coral reefs, including some of the oldest and largest Porites coral heads in the world, deepwater reefs, hydrothermal vent communities, and rare marine archaeological resources.
View more photos and videos associated with the 2017 American Samoa Expedition: Suesuega o le Moana o Amerika Samoa on NOAA’s Photo & Video Log.