NOAA Prepares for Expedition

PEARL HARBOR (KHNL) - Local scientists are gearing up for a historic journey to a fairly remote part of the Pacific.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is leading the voyage this Saturday to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

It'll give them a rare look at what lies beneath. With the help from a camera, which can travel 2 1/2 miles underwater, they expect to uncover new species. Scientists will also learn how this national monument differs from the main islands.

"It's a contiguous part of the Hawaiian archipelago, so what we see there really tells us what the main Hawaiian Islands probably used to look like or perhaps could look like with proper management," said Randy Kosaki, research coordinator.

The team also plans to tag larger predators, including sharks. Scientists will discover whether they swim between islands or stick to one.

It's important to keep the monument as pristine as possible and the ship is equipped to do that.

"We hold all the sewage on board, we hold all the gray water drains on board and we're very cautious about what's left on deck so even rainwater that comes on deck and washes over, it doesn't have any impact on the monument," said Jon Swallow, commanding officer.

Researchers know this isn't an everyday trip. It's a journey that will teach them what the rest of the islands have to offer and what makes this part of the Pacific so unique.

The crew will be gone for 25 days.