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    Tuesday, December 11, 2018-7:57:29P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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NOAA briefs lawmakers on deep-water expedition

THE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday briefed lawmakers on the results of the 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas.

The expedition of NOAA’s vessel, Okeanos Explorer, is part of a three-year campaign to address the Pacific Monument Science Technology and Ocean Needs — an initiative to collect deep-water baseline information to support science and management decisions in and around U.S. marine protected areas in the central and western Pacific.

NOAA Ocean Exploration and Research’s David McKinnie and biology science team leader Dr. Diva Amon of the University of Hawaii made the presentation in the Senate chamber at 1:30 p.m.

Those who attended the presentation were Senate Vice President Arnold I. Palacios, Sen. Sixto K. Igisomar, Sen. Justo S. Quitugua, Sen. Frank Q. Cruz, Rep. Joseph Leepan T. Guerrero and Rep. Vinson F. Sablan.

McKinnie said in an interview that when they previously notified Gov. Ralph Torres about the expedition, they also offered to come back and brief CNMI government officials about the results of the expedition. Hence, the presentation on Wednesday.

He said the 59-day, three-leg expedition included the use of a remotely operated vehicle or ROV in the exploration of unknown and poorly known areas in and around the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument and the CNMI.

Senate Vice President Arnold I. Palacios, left, asks questions of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ocean Exploration and Research’s David McKinnie, right, and  biology science team leader Dr. Diva Amon, center, during a presentation in the Senate chamber, Wednesday.  Photo by Emmanuel T. EredianoSenate Vice President Arnold I. Palacios, left, asks questions of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ocean Exploration and Research’s David McKinnie, right, and biology science team leader Dr. Diva Amon, center, during a presentation in the Senate chamber, Wednesday. Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano

The Okeanos Explorer mapped more than 78,700 square kilometers of seafloor and conducted 41 ROV dives during which 58 primary biological samples were collected, most of which are potentially new species. The NOAA team also collected 73 rock samples for use in age dating and geochemical composition analysis.

During the presentation, the NOAA team showed videos of seafloor 3.2 kilometers deep, vents displaying hydrothermal activity of 300 to 400 degrees Celsius, potentially undiscovered deep-water species as well as marine debris that include a World War II B-29 Super Fortress.

Amon said they visited sites that are geographically unique on the planet.

The expedition, McKinnie said, was completed on July 10.

“It is important for us to share the results with the Legislature about the kinds of information we collected because they are the ones responsible for making decisions in this area and we wanted them to have the information to help them make those decisions,” McKinnie told Variety in an interview after the presentation.

For more information, go to http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/okeanos/explorations/ex1605/welcome.html/.