NOAA 00-R202
Contact: Delores Clark


Dr. Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence, brings her
latest ocean research and education project to Hawaii this week for a series of deep
ocean dives to explore the habitat of the humpback whale. The Sustainable Seas
Expeditions is a five -year project and so far has explored the depths of nine of
the Nation's 12 National Marine Sanctuaries, looking at the haunts of sea lions and
endangered turtles as well as coral reefs and the remains of the Monitor civil war wreck
off N.C. The SSE will conduct scientific dives, educational activities, and public events
in Hawaii during Jan. 10-25, hosted by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale
National Marine Sanctuary

According to Earle, "It is always a pleasure to be in Hawaii, diving and enjoying the marvelous aloha of the deep! But this will be the first time to systematically map and document the creatures and their habitat. We will come away from this project with a scientific record previously unavailable that will help managers make wise decisions about the health of the sanctuary and its inhabitants."

"NOAA is very pleased with the results of the previous nine missions. This project has yielded a tremendous wealth of scientific data which might have taken years to gather without our partnership with National Geographic," said Sally Yozell, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere.

Scientists will use the DeepWorker, a one-person submersible, which can dive to depths of 2,000 ft. Provided by American Marine Corp., the sub is equipped with sophisticated sonar and communications systems for filming underwater and recording ocean sounds. It has two mechanical arms for sample retrievals. The submersible will operate in conjunction with the American Marine vessel American Islander, the NOAA Ship Ka'imimoana, and the Atlantis Adventures submarines in a series of dives,
Jan. 10-19.

About 300 Hawaii school students will participate in some of the dives and associated activities. They will receive national exposure via a program sponsored by the Hawaii Department of Education and KHET-TV called KidScience, which will air live locally on Jan. 11 and nationally on Jan. 25 to over 1 million people in 24 states.

"This is a marvelous opportunity for Hawaii's students, the whales, and the state," said Allen Tom, manager of the Hawaiian Humpback Whale Sanctuary. "The students are being exposed to hands-on science at an early age, and the state is getting visibility for its support to the humpback whale sanctuary."

Other educational activities for the students include the following:

Wednesday, Jan.12, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Students and Teachers at Sea off Lahaina

Off the Island of Maui, three whale watch cruise boats donated by Trilogy Excursions, Pacific Whale Foundation, and Club Lanai will be used for student research. Selected students and their teachers from various middle and high schools on Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island will participate in whale counts, record whale behavior, take fluke identification pictures, analyze whale songs, and assist with environmental assessments. Data will be posted, shared, and compared with data collected by researchers operating the submersibles.

Thursday, Jan. 13, 9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Students & Teachers at Sea - Kaimimoana

A small group of students will spend the day on the NOAA Ship Ka'imimoana shadowing scientists. Students will be assigned to work stations and will help produce a video of the DeepWorker dive, generate tracking maps, and write mission logs for the day. Later they will participate in a video conference with students in Hawaii and American Samoa to share experiences.

Friday, Jan. 14, 8:15 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.
DeepWorker Rendezvous with Atlantis Submarines

Students will have an exciting opportunity to pose as submersible researchers. About 160 students and teachers will be taken to the floor of the ocean (approx. 100 ft.) to collect data for fish counts, participate in a monitoring activity, and gain a better understanding about the challenges of underwater research. Dr. Sylvia Earle will work alongside the Atlantis in her SSE DeepWorker and interact with students via underwater radios.

Several public events are being held in conjunction with the scientific mission:

Saturday, Jan. 15, 9 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. - Maui

Open House at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, 726 S. Kihei Road, Kihei, Maui. Tours, entertainment, games, crafts, informational displays for the whole family. Free. Info: Carol Carey, (808) 879-2818.

Saturday, Jan. 22, 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. - Oahu

Open House at the Waikiki Aquarium, 2777 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu. Special guest, Dr. Sylvia Earle, will be on hand to answer questions, along with performances by Ohia Productions, entertainment, educational activities for the keiki, Sustainable Seas Exhibit, and a life-size model of the DeepWorker submersible. Free with admission to Aquarium. Info: (808) 923-9741.

Sunday, Jan. 23, 10 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. - Big Island

National Marine Sanctuary Family Ocean Fair, King Kamehameha
Kona Beach Hotel, 75-5660 Palani Road, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Includes lecture series with Dr. Sylvia Earle, NASA Astronaut Joan Higginbotham, and marine photographer Flip Nicklin, keiki activities, games, crafts, and informational displays from several government, business, and ocean organizations. Nominal parking fee. Info: Jean Souza, (808)335-0941.

For more information on the Sustainable Seas Expeditions, please visit and Also visit to learn more about NOAA's national marine sanctuaries.

SSE is a project of the National Geographic Society in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, made possible by the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund. Supporters include American Marine Corp., Atlantis Adventures, KidScience Hawaii Dept. of Education, KHET, Waikiki Aquarium, King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel, Pacific Whale Foundation, Trilogy Excursions, and Club Lanai.