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Deep Sea Exploration with NOAA

Focus Question: What discoveries and human benefits have resulted from exploration of the Earth’s deep ocean?

In the past twenty years, new tools and technologies have allowed scientists to visit many previously unexplored areas of the deep ocean. 

All photos courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

Expeditions sponsored by the Office of Ocean Exploration have:

  • Explored recently discovered hydrothermal vents and cold seep communities that have resulted in new ideas about the beginnings of life on Earth.

  • Prospected for new anti-cancer drugs from the deep sea

  • Investigated methane hydrate deposits that may be an energy source twice as large as all global reserves of coal, oil, and conventional natural gas combined.

  • Recovered the historic turret and engine of the Civil War ironclad, USS Monitor

  • Discovered well-preserved 19th century shipwrecks in the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron, Michigan;

  • Investigated origins and culture of the first people to inhabit North America

  • Discovered the steamship Portland, an ill-fated passenger ship lost in 1898 off the Massachusetts coast.

These expeditions have discovered hundreds of new species, and even new ecosystems, but many more discoveries are yet to be made. 

Activity: Time for a Treasure Hunt 

Use this link: Expeditions 

To search through the NOAA expedition archives.


Explore NOAA's findings and answer the questions in this worksheet: 

Discussion Questions: 

  • How could each of these expeditions benefit people and the earth? 

  • What are three ways in which exploration of Earth’s deep ocean could be of direct personal benefit? 


Explorer expeditions use various types of manned or remotely operated underwater vehicles.


  1. Draw plans to construct your own underwater vehicle. Can you create it out of something in your home? (ie. Legos, sticks, paper, glue)


Sources: The NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) 

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