U.S. flag An official website of the United States government.

dot gov icon Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

https icon Secure websites use HTTPS

A small lock or https:// means you’ve safely connected to a .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

The Last Grand Challenge



My name is Dr. Alan Leonardi, and I am the director of NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.

Recently, we had the opportunity to explore the waters off of Hawai’i to see what was on the bottom of the ocean in these zones for the very first time.

This is one of the primary reasons why we explore. We go into these areas where nobody has ever been before to try to find out what is there. We look at the chemistry of the ocean, we look at the biology of the ocean, we look at the geology of the ocean, and we look at how it’s changing over time, and how those changes might affect those habitats, and whether or not those species will be able to survive in the future in those habitats if the oceans continue to change.

I would argue that exploring the earth’s oceans is probably the last grand challenge we have on this planet. We’re doing great things exploring the surfaces of Mars, looking at exploring icy planets and water on other planets, but the oceans on this planet still remain unexplored, and the sheer fact of the matter is that almost every time we’re at the bottom of the ocean, in the deepest, darkest places on the planet, we find new species, or we find species that are larger than we ever expected them to be, or we find species living in places that we never expected that they would live.

One of the things that excites me the most about what we do is the fact that we bring all of our data, and our information, and our video to the public in real-time. Anybody can participate in one of our research cruises as it’s happening. The information and the video is streamed live from our website.

So I invite you to join us on our next expedition at oceanexplorer.noaa.gov