Indonesia and U.S. Launch Deep-Sea Expedition

Program is a multi-year partnership to share ocean science, technology, and education

July 7, 2010

Okeanos Explorer.

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer berthed at the NOAA Ford Island facility located in the middle of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

High resolution (Credit: Image courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.)

The first joint expedition by the Republic of Indonesia and the United States to explore unknown deep-sea areas in Indonesian waters is under way. This expedition is the first activity in a multi-year partnership to advance ocean science, technology and education.

This is the maiden expedition of the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer and the first joint international expedition to send live images and other data from sea to scientists on watch at Exploration Command Centers ashore both in Indonesia and the United States.

Chairman of the Agency for Marine and Fisheries Research Dr. Gellwynn Jusuf was joined by Indonesian scientific partners and Peter Haas, Minister Counselor at the U.S. Embassy Jakarta at an Exploration Command Center in Jakarta to welcome Okeanos Explorer to Indonesian waters.

“On behalf of all Indonesians, I am very pleased to welcome the Okeanos Explorer to Indonesia,” said Minister for Marine Affairs and Fisheries Fadel Muhammad. “We look forward to the weeks ahead when live images and other data will be transmitted from sea to Indonesian and U.S. scientists standing watch ashore, both here in Jakarta and in Seattle. I expect our joint work will reveal secrets hidden in the deep sea that will promote knowledge and create new understanding of the importance of the oceans and seas to all life.”

This partnership in ocean exploration is an example of the cooperative ventures in science and technology that President Obama called for in his remarks at Cairo University in 2009, encouraging stronger scientific ties between the U.S. and Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

“NOAA welcomes the chance to work with our Indonesian partners on this first expedition of the Okeanos Explorer, America’s ship for ocean exploration,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA Administrator. “Indonesian waters are home to more marine biodiversity than anyplace else in the world.  We explore together to better understand, use, and protect the ocean and its resources.”

Explorers expect discoveries that will advance our understanding of undersea ecosystems and volcanic hydrothermal vent activity where biologically unique communities typically are found. Discoveries could also advance understanding of ocean acidification processes and provide new information on deep ocean volcanically-derived gasses, such as carbon dioxide that have a role in climate and ecosystem variability.

In addition to ocean exploration, NOAA and Indonesian agencies have been working on other ocean-related issues including: coastal hazard resilience, prediction and adaptation to climate-related changes in the coastal and marine environment, marine resource management and seafood safety.  NOAA works with our Indonesian partners to address these issues through various research and monitoring projects, training, data and information sharing, technology sharing, and formal and informal education efforts.

The expedition will engage teachers, students and others in Indonesia and the United States to bring the excitement of ocean exploration into classrooms using expedition-specific curriculum in two languages found at the NOAA website. This site is reporting on the joint expedition with images and logs from scientists at sea and ashore.

The expedition will explore portions of the largely unknown Coral Triangle – a triangular-shaped area where the Indian and Pacific oceans meet. Indonesia was a key partner in forming the Coral Triangle Initiative, a partnership of the Six Leaders of Southeast Asian and Pacific nations to establish a cooperative arrangement to sustainably manage the marine, coastal and small islands ecosystems and to contribute to strengthening food security, increasing resiliency, and adaptation to climate change in the area while protecting natural resources.

The expedition runs between late June and mid-August with NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer and the Baruna Jaya IV operating at the same time in different areas of SATAL, a contraction of Sangihe and Talaud, two island chains stretching north of Sulawesi. Scientists call the expedition INDEX SATAL-2010.

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