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NURP Collaborates with OE on Research Cruise to S. Pacific
This story entered on 21st Mar, 2005 11:15:38 AM PST

On March 18, 2005, the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL), NOAA’s Undersea Research Program for Hawaii and the Western Pacific, began the longest, most-challenging expedition in its 25 year history. The pioneering cruise, funded largely by NOAA’s Undersea Research Program (NURP) and the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration (OE), will over a period of four months conduct an extensive deep-sea investigation of U.S. territories in the South Pacific Ocean with a final destination of the Kermadec Ridge off of New Zealand. Sites to be investigated are home to many rare and endangered species of fish, mammals, and benthic fauna; thousands of acres of coral reefs; and an active volcano with a crater two miles in width.

This is the first U.S. deep-sea investigation using deep-diving submersibles to be conducted in this portion of the Pacific region and includes research projects that aim to 1) provide a greater understanding of climate variability at the decadal to centennial scales 2) improve understanding of the limits of photosynthetic activity in turbid waters such as those often found in urban coasts and 3) develop maps that define critical fish and coral habitat in the National Park of American Samoa.

The expedition, which began in Hawaii and will end in New Zealand, will stop at several sites, including Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll; Howland and Baker Islands; American Samoa; Tonga; Kermadec Ridge, and Tauranga. The research cruise will be using the R/V K-O-K loaded with both Pisces submersibles, a remotely operated vehicle, and other technical equipment. Scientists expect to conduct over 60 deep-sea dives using the submersibles during the cruise to investigate deep-sea corals; macroalgae photosynthesis at the lower limits of light penetration; biogeography of the area’s deep-water fish and corals; and ecological patterns of the biotic communities associated with volcanic hydrothermal vents.

The Honolulu Star Bulletin recently featured a story on the cruise, which can be viewed at:

Contact information
Name: John Smith
Tel: (808) 956-9669


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Updated: August 26, 2005