In 2017, Falkor voyaged to the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) with an interdisciplinary team of scientists. The goal was to explore and document never before seen deep-sea ecosystems of PIPA. PIPA is the largest and deepest of the UNESCO World Heritage sites and the first internationally recognized Marine Protected Area (MPA) to be established by a least developed nation– The Republic of Kiribati. The team of scientists worked alongside Kiribati to classify the abundance of deep-sea biodiversity that PIPA holds. Along the way, they characterized deep-sea microbes found in PIPA’s newly illuminated ecosystem. The revelations the science team made with the data they collected in PIPA were plentiful.

In June, Falkor will return to PIPA under Chief Scientist Randi Rotjan, with some of the original 2017 science team and a few new members. Rotjan’s team is brimming with questions after the successful 2017 voyage. Their scientific objectives include continuing to investigate deep-sea microbes’ therapeutic potential; examining how ancient cold water corals survive predation by corallivores; and enquiring into the equator’s effect on the ecology of deep coral and sponge communities. The team will also look beyond PIPA, and examine the unexplored depths of the Howland and Baker unit of the United States Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument (PRIMNM)– a neighboring MPA to PIPA and part of the same archipelago. The Phoenix Archipelago (both PIPA and PRIMNM) straddles equatorial waters. Both PIPA and PRINMN offer a glimpse into the deep sea’s natural processes in a relatively untouched part of the ocean, given their status as remote marine protected areas.

More information on the research cruise page.

ROV SuBastian Dive 419 – Seamount Exploration – World Ocean Day – Part 1
Date: June 8, 2021
Location: Unexplored guyot seamount in Pacific Ocean Marine Area Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ)
Estimated Maximum Depth: 2225 meters
Work Completed: Diving on an unexplored guyot seamount in international Pacific Ocean waters – a Marine Area Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) – with ROV SuBastian for the first look at corals and associates. 

ROV SuBastian Dive 419 – Seamount Exploration – World Ocean Day – Part 2
Date: June 8, 2021
Location: Unexplored guyot seamount in Pacific Ocean Marine Area Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ)
Estimated Maximum Depth: 2225 meters
Work Completed: Diving on an unexplored guyot seamount in international Pacific Ocean waters – a Marine Area Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) – with ROV SuBastian for the first look at corals and associates. 

ROV SuBastian Dive 419 – Seamount Exploration – World Ocean Day – Part 3
Date: June 8, 2021
Location: Unexplored guyot seamount in Pacific Ocean Marine Area Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ)
Estimated Maximum Depth: 2225 meters
Work Completed: Diving on an unexplored guyot seamount in international Pacific Ocean waters – a Marine Area Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) – with ROV SuBastian for the first look at corals and associates. 

ROV SuBastian Dive 419 – Seamount Exploration – World Ocean Day – Part 4
Date: June 8, 2021
Location: Unexplored guyot seamount in Pacific Ocean Marine Area Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ)
Estimated Maximum Depth: 2225 meters
Work Completed: Diving on an unexplored guyot seamount in international Pacific Ocean waters – a Marine Area Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) – with ROV SuBastian for the first look at corals and associates. 

ROV Dive 420 – High Seas Seamount #2 Exploration
Date: June 11, 2021
Location: A previously unexplored (just mapped the same day) seamount in international Pacific Ocean waters.
Estimated Maximum Depth: 1877 meters
Work Completed: Diving on an unexplored (just mapped the same day) seamount in international (high seas) Pacific Ocean waters with ROV SuBastian for the first look at corals and associates. 

ROV Dive 421 – Seamount Exploration #1 – US EEZ
Date: June 13, 2021
Location: A newly mapped seamount chain in the US EEZ, just north the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM) in the Phoenix Archipelago. The area today is approximately 171 nm of Howland Island.
Estimated Maximum Depth: 2600 meters
Work Completed: Dive will cover depths approximately from 2600m up to 2200m using ROV SuBastian for a first look at corals and associates on this previously unmapped seamount. 

ROV Dive 422 – Howland Island Northeast Ridge
Date: June 15, 2021
This dive was unable to be streamed due to technical difficulties.