“Arctic Deep” – Expedition to the deepest parts of the Arctic | Polarjournal
A volcanic vent at great depth. (Photo: Ocean Census)

The “Ocean Census Arctic Deep” expedition aims to redefine our understanding of the biodiversity of the deepest marine habitats of the Arctic Ocean. The Arctic remains one of the least explored regions on Earth. In particular, the Arctic Ocean’s deep-sea region has an average depth of over 1,000 meters, with much of its seafloor difficult to explore at high latitudes. However, this vast, deep and cold environment is home to biodiverse habitats full of countless species and ecosystems, many of which are still undiscovered or poorly explored by science.

The scientists are hoping for “groundbreaking scientific exploration” when they reach the deep parts of the Arctic Ocean. (Photo: REV Ocean)

Led by an alliance between the Nippon Foundation, Nekton and Ocean Census, as well as UiT (The Arctic University of Norway) and REV Ocean, the expedition brings together a multidisciplinary team of 36 scientists and media experts from 15 leading academic institutions to explore and make new discoveries. The aim of the mission is to discover new marine species in the Arctic and the Barents Sea.

Prof. Alex Rogers, Science Director at Ocean Census, explains: “Ocean Census has a rare opportunity to delve into some of Earth’s most extreme and uncharted habitats – from hydrothermal vents, abyssal plains, and mid-ocean ridges to seamounts and gas and oil seeps. These remarkable environments harbor an abundance of undiscovered life forms, and we anticipate uncovering hundreds of new species, ranging from sponges to corals, sea anemones, snails, small crustaceans and animals which feed off chemical energy like beard worms.”

Home base during the expedition is the Norwegian ship “Kronprins Haakon”. (Photo: Ocean Census)

The team started the expedition on May 3, 2024. The plan is to use REV Ocean’s state-of-the-art remotely operated deep submersible Aurora and skilled support team to enable groundbreaking scientific exploration aboard the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research’s RV “Kronprins Haakon” until May 31, 2024.


The Aurora submersible is suitable for the most demanding tasks, is highly customizable and can be fitted with additional scientific equipment if required. The Aurora weighs in at 4,250 kilos (9,300 lb).

The research area is located in the Fram Strait. (Graphic: Heiner Kubny)

The research area covers a wide range of deep-sea habitats, including the Knipovich Ridge, the Dumshaff Abyssal Plain, the Jøtul vent field, the 46-kilometer-long Svyatogor Ridge, the Alta seamount and the Molløy Deep, at 5,550 meters the deepest point in the Arctic Ocean, some of which are being targeted for deep-sea mining.

REV Ocean is financed by businessman Kjell Inge Røkke. The CEO of REV Ocean is former Managing Director of WWF Norway Nina Jensen. (Photo: REV Ocean)

Who is REV Ocean

REV Ocean has an ambitious but simple goal: “To ensure a healthy ocean”. The company was founded on July 20, 2017 and is financed by Norwegian businessman Kjell Inge Røkke. REV Ocean will enable a new generation of solutions and raise awareness of the global impact on the marine environment. “We need to improve our understanding of the ocean, align key stakeholders from politics, research, business and civil society with this understanding and translate this knowledge into concrete solutions.”

Nina Jensen, CEO of REV Ocean and former Managing Director of WWF Norway: “We are delighted to support UiT and Ocean Census on the Extreme24 expedition to the Arctic and the Barents Sea. This is a unique opportunity to explore some of the most remote and unknown regions of our planet while making the most of the Aurora ROV”.

Following the expedition, Ocean Census and the UiT will host a workshop at their university laboratories in Tromsø in October 2024 to showcase the species discovery using the collected specimens.

The resulting collection will be housed at Tromsø’s Arctic University Museum and will be a valuable resource for future research efforts.

www.revocean.org

Heiner Kubny, Polarjournal

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