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Scientists head west for a seafloor mapping expedition in and around Papahānaumokuākea

A drone Stern shot from the starboard side of Nautilus.
OET/Nautilus Live
A drone Stern shot from the starboard side of Nautilus.

The Ocean Exploration Trust has sent the Exploration Vessel Nautilus on a three-week expedition to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

The monument is one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world, covering over 580,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean.

The 43-member crew includes scientists who are mapping never before explored geography and investigating the biology and rocks in the Wentworth Seamounts.

The Conversation connected with education coordinator Andy Collins and team leader Emil Petruncio while they were on Nautilus on day four — over 800 miles west of Honolulu.

"I hope everybody recognizes that, as the great Sylvia Earle has said, 'No blue, no green. If we don't have healthy oceans, there's no life on Earth,'" Petruncio said. "We are intimately tied to healthy oceans. And I encourage everybody to at least tune in, if not live while we're diving."

The expedition's name, Luʻuaeaahikiikapapakū, represents the journey to and the work in the papakū, or the ocean floor, which includes surveying and mapping seamounts and investigating macro-biology through the use of remotely operated vehicles.

"You can go back and look on the Nautilus live website and look at a playback of the dive and just see how amazing this last great frontier on Earth really is," Petruncio said.

The deep-sea expedition continues through Dec. 6. Click here to watch live video.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Nov. 23, 2021.

Editor's note: Andy Collins is also a member of Hawaiʻi Public Radio's Community Advisory Board.

Lillian Tsang is the senior producer of The Conversation. She has been part of the talk show team since it first aired in 2011. Contact her at ltsang@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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