2021 U.S. Blake Plateau Mapping

From August 15 to September 30, NOAA Ocean Exploration will conduct two telepresence-enabled exploratory ocean mapping expeditions on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. The first expedition will depart from Newport, Rhode Island, on August 16 and arrive in Port Canaveral, Florida, on September 2. The second expedition will depart from Port Canaveral on September 5 and return to Port Canaveral on September 28. These expeditions will include 24-hour-a-day acoustic exploration mapping operations in areas generally deeper than 200 meters (656 feet) in U.S. waters off the east coast, with a focus on the Blake Plateau.

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In Port: Expedition Complete

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer has returned to Newport, Rhode Island, following the successful completion of the 2021 North Atlantic Stepping Stones expedition. Our next expedition will start August 9 and will focus on mapping operations along the Blake Plateau.

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July 28: Dive 20 Complete; Ship Heading to Port

The final dive of the 2021 North Atlantic Stepping Stones expedition has been completed. NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer will now transit to Newport, Rhode Island. Our next expedition will focus on mapping the Blake Plateau.

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July 28: Dive 20: Water Column Exploration

For the final dive of the 2021 North Atlantic Stepping Stones expedition, we will be exploring the water column within Hydrographer Canyon through a series of two transect passes. The first pass will involve transects at depths of 300, 500, 700, and 900 meters (984, 1,640, 2,297, and 2,953 feet). The second pass will be dictated by features of interest, including those detected through sensor readings and observations made from the first pass.


The remotely operated vehicles will be deployed at 9:00 a.m. ET and reach the first transect depth (300 meters/984 feet) at approximately 9:15 a.m. ET. We will continue exploration until approximately 3:00 p.m. ET.

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July 27: Dive 19 Complete; Last Expedition Dive Tomorrow

We have completed Dive 19 of the 2021 North Atlantic Stepping Stones expedition. This was our last dive on a seamount and our last dive to explore the seafloor during this expedition. We will finish out the expedition tomorrow with one final dive, this one dedicated to exploring the water column.

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July 27: Dive 19: Retriever Seamount

Today’s dive will take place on Retriever Seamount, which is one of four seamounts within the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument.  The dive is planned to explore one of the prominent pinnacles on the seamount’s summit at a starting depth of approximately 2,000 meters (6,562 feet). This will be the last seamount dive of the expedition.


Remotely operated vehicle deployment is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. ET. The vehicles are expected to reach the seafloor at approximately 10:30 a.m. ET and will remain on the bottom until 3:30 p.m. ET.

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July 26: Dive Cancelled

Unfortunately 25-knot winds have rendered it unsafe to dive today, so the dive is cancelled. Weather permitting, we will dive on Retriever Seamount tomorrow, July 27, deploying the remotely operated vehicles at 8:30 a.m. ET and descending to a depth of approximately 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) to explore Retriever Seamount, one of the four seamounts within the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument.

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July 26: Dive 19 Delayed

The weather has started to build, so the launch of the remotely operated vehicles has been delayed with the hopes that things will calm down. An update will be provided when available.

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July 26: Dive 19: Retriever Seamount

Today we will explore Retriever Seamount, one of the four seamounts within the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. The dive is planned to explore one of the prominent pinnacles on the seamount’s summit, starting at a depth of approximately 2,000 meters (6,562 feet).


Remotely operated vehicle deployment is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. ET. The vehicles are expected to reach the seafloor at approximately 9:40 a.m. ET and will remain on the bottom until 3:30 p.m. ET.

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July 25: Dive 18 Complete; Diving Again Tomorrow

Our short but successful dive on “Asterina” Seamount is complete. Tomorrow we plan to dive on Asterias Seamount, targeting a deep depth of nearly 4,000 meters (2.5 miles). We expect to deploy the remotely operated vehicles at 8:30 a.m. ET and will have a fairly lengthy descent time.

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