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Hello Ocean Explorers!

Welcome to the first Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute (OECI) newsletter. As a way to keep all OECI participants and partners informed, the OECI executive office will distribute a once-a-month newsletter that provides a brief update on OECI activities.

All of OECI is encouraged to contribute to newsletter items. To that end, the executive office will send an email out two weeks before the publication of each newsletter with a request for items to be included. We would love to hear about field programs, new instruments, student achievements, high-profile visitors, and whatever else you think the OECI community should know. Next month look for an update on the University of Southern Mississippi's (USM) search for the SS Norlindo and a report from the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) on the first quarter of their field season. 

If you are receiving this directly, you are already subscribed to the newsletter. Feel free to forward this on and encourage your colleagues to subscribe by following the below link, which will also be posted on the OECI website.

It’s an exciting time for OECI with some major administrative hurdles behind us and some exciting field programs ahead of us.

Best regards,

Adam Soule

 Subscribe: OECI Newsletter

OECI Year 2 Reporting

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Many thanks to all the OECI partners and PIs for producing a complete and consistent report-out for Year 2. Thanks also go to NOAA Ocean Exploration for providing timely and constructive feedback on the reports. The report was submitted on August 4, 2021, and pending some last minute corrections, has been approved by NOAA.

As the OECI grows, so does the complexity of reporting, but we have established some solid reporting protocols during this period that will provide a great record of our activities, achievements, and challenges for our sponsors and ourselves. The Executive Summary that was produced for this year's report is linked here. We will print glossy copies of this report and will send them around to share within your institutions and to visitors. 

Tech Demo Activities onboard the E/V Nautilus

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The upcoming technology demonstration aboard E/V Nautilus faced a challenge in light of difficulties from the delayed (and ongoing) certification of the DriX launch and recovery system. In broad strokes, there is a significant risk that the launch and recovery crane will not be certified in time for the planned DriX + Mesobot cruise in early September. A full range of potential options to reorganize this activity was explored, and through many discussions, the following solution was derived.

The first leg of the technology demonstration project pairing DriX and Mesobot (Y2) will be cancelled. DriX will remain at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and undergo much more extensive testing and validation than would have been possible with DriX onboard Nautilus (and transiting to Hawaii). In doing so, the UNH team will also have more time to gain operational proficiency with the system and share training opportunities with NOAA. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's (WHOI) Mesobot will join Leg 2 of the technology demonstration and will be paired with NUI. NUI's objectives, to pilot and validate tele-operations, will remain the same, and Mesobot will have an opportunity to test and develop operational proficiency with its new sensor systems (e.g., radiometer) and sampling systems (e.g., eDNA) that are aimed at defining mid-water exploration protocols.

After the cruise, Mesobot will join DriX at UNH to demonstrate intra-vehicle communications (a key goal of the original Leg 1 of the tech demo). In addition, Nautilus will extend its mapping efforts on its transit down the west coast, and have additional time at the dock to ensure that necessary repairs to the DriX launch and recovery system are completed.

It is important to emphasize that this solution reflects the flexibility of all the partners and demonstrates the tremendous creativity of the OECI to take a challenging situation and find a solution that may, in fact, provide better outcomes than the initial plan. I feel incredibly fortunate to work with this group!

OECI-focused NOAA Science Seminars

The first of six, OECI-focused NOAA Science Seminars took place on Wednesday, August 11, 2021, and was a great success. The seminar offered an introduction to the OECI and featured comments from Craig McLean, Bob Ballard, Genene Fischer, and myself and was moderated by Aurora Elmore. More than 200 people watched the live seminar and a recording of the seminar is available for viewing.

We hope you will join us for the next seminar in this series, which will be broadcast live from the R/V Pt. Sur, and will focus on the mission of OECI partner, USM, to find the SS Norlindo, a steam freighter lost in WWII. This seminar will include comments from the OECI's first Tuskegee University (TU) intern, Darrielle Williams. Be sure to tune in tomorrow, Wednesday, September 1, at 3pm ET, with connection details available on the OECI NOAA Seminar webpage.

OECI Seminar Schedule