Exploring the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico

By Elizabeth Weinberg

November 2017

What lies in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico? Over the next several weeks, you’ll be able to watch dives in real time to find out.

dumbo octopus
This dumbo octopus was observed in a previous Okeanos Explorer expedition to the Gulf of Mexico. Photo: NOAA

From November 29 to December 21, the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer will be exploring throughout the Gulf of Mexico, including in some areas that are being considered for possible expansion of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Researchers will use the remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer to get up close to the deep-sea ecosystems that make this ocean basin so unique.

The Gulf of Mexico contains a wide range of habitats and interesting geological features ranging from brine pools to coral gardens and canyons to mud volcanoes. It also contains significant submerged cultural heritage sites that have yet to be explored.

But it’s not just scientists who will be able to experience these amazing sites! Okeanos Explorer is equipped with real-time broadband satellite communications that provide the ship with telepresence – meaning the videos and photos collected with ROVs can be shared on the internet in real time. Scientists on shore, teachers, students, and you can watch the dives as they happen!

Tune in here from November 29 to December 21 to watch the dives.




Known as “America’s Ship for Ocean Exploration,” Okeanos is the only federally-funded U.S. ship specifically assigned to systematically explore our largely unknown ocean for the purpose of discovery and advancement of knowledge. The Okeanos crew – and all the scientists joining via video feed in exploration command centers around the country – is out in the Gulf of Mexico with the specific mission of finding out what’s out there.

The research team is sure to come across some spectacular sights, so don’t miss out! You can watch live video feeds from the expedition at the top of this page from November 29 to December 21, and on the Okeanos Explorer website. Plus, visit the expedition webpage for a mission plan, background essays, and an Ocean Explorer Expedition Education Module that includes an expedition purpose, standards-based lessons, interactive multimedia activities for students, career connections, and much more!

rovs and technicians on deck
The ROVs Seirios and Deep Discoverer are prepared for deployment on the aft deck of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. Photo: NOAA

Elizabeth Weinberg is the social media coordinator and writer/editor for NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.