The Franklin Institute

I'm back!

Blue Coral

I have returned to dry land!

For those unfamiliar with who I am and what I have been doing for the past month, check out part one and part two of my blog series, where I share my experience as a Science Communication Fellow with the Ocean Exploration Trust and Nautilus Live.

Thank you to everyone I sailed with in the Corps of Exploration, all of my wonderful coworkers at my home base at The Franklin Institute, and to all of you who made it down to the museum to catch a Q&A or watched at home! It is a huge undertaking to explore the deep sea and to share it with the world, and I feel incredibly lucky to work towards that goal with such amazing people.

Here is a breakdown of our expedition, by the numbers:

 - 44 Corps of Exploration members lived and worked  together for three weeks in the Central Pacific Ocean from June 22nd through July 14th, 2019.

 - Over 2500 miles sailed between our starting point in Honolulu, Hawaii and our ending point in Pago Pago, American Samoa.

 - 7 ROV dives totaling 140 hours of video recorded on the sea floor. We explored deep waters off of Kingman Reef, Palmyra Atoll, and Jarvis Island all contained within the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. The areas we observed had not been visually surveyed prior to our research cruise. You can see highlights from the expedition as well as full dive recordings on the Nautilus Live website and YouTube page.

 - 116 specimen collections made to better understand the geological formation of these sites as well as the biodiversity. The geology samples will be catalogued at the University of Rhode Island and the biology samples will be catalogued at the Harvard Museum of Comparitive Zoology. From there, scientists from around the world will be able to request the samples for further research. Many sub specimens will also be taken back to the Cordes Lab at Temple University to be further studied by the expedition's Lead Biologist, Steve Auscavitch.

Here are some picture highlights!

Blue Coral

This beautiful shot was taken off of Jarvis Island. As the lights from ROV Hercules bathed this deepwater landscape, incredible blue corals came into view. This particular group of coral is often found to be a white color in the deep sea. Everyone on board was dazzled by the bright coloration of this specimen and a piece was collected for further study. Learn more about the deep water coral diversity we observed by checking out this photo album.

piglet squad

We also had quite the cephalopod squad! Cephalopods are the group of animals that contain squids, octopuses, and cuttlefish. On this cruise we encountered many different species including the piglet squid, the dumpo octopus, and the Asperotuethis mangoldae a species of squid that had never been observed alive before this encounter!


dumbo octopus

These highlights only scratch the surface of the incredible deep sea world we had the pleasure and honor of exploring on this cruise. Check out the blog and photo album about even more biodiversity that I helped write while aboard the vessel.


While I have returned to Philadelphia, the E/V Nautilus is still exploring and livestreaming from the Pacific Ocean. Check the rest of the expedition season's schedule here.

Keep an eye on The Franklin Institute's Facebook page for video content about this expedition!

PS. Did you hear the news? Dr. Robert Ballard, the man who discovered the wreck of the Titanic, filmed the first recordings of hydrothermal vents, and founded the E/V Nautilus program will be embarking on an expedition to look for the lost plane of Amelia Airhart. Read more here and stay tuned this October for a National Geographic special showcasing the expedition.

July 26, 2019, 04:46pm

Alix Leszczynski

Science Interpreter

Alix works as part of the Museum Programs and Outreach Initiatives team and performs live science demonstrations, creates curriculum for use on the museum floor, and helps to oversee educational volunteers and materials. Their favorite duties include overseeing the anatomical specimens such as horse hearts, cow eyes, and human brains.