A supposed shark infestation threatens to harm a near pristine ocean ecosystem in the NW Hawaiian Islands and, in particular, a population of critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals. In Mission 4 of Resilient Planet, players step into the role of a NOAA marine ecologist and licensed operator of the Hercules ROV working to decode a complex ecosystem according to the scientific process. Aided by scientists Enric Sala and Greg Marshall, and equipped with a host of authentic scientific tools and practices, they must navigate the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in search of data that will help them either corroborate or debunk the shark infestation theory.
Resilient Planet is very much a field research game. In Mission 4, players tackle a seal to attach a Crittercam, conduct a transect population survey, produce vomit from a tiger shark to study its diet, measure parrotfish to determine their age distribution, and so on. In sum, the game plays like a highlight reel of Sala and Marshall's recent groundbreaking work in marine ecology. But collecting good data is only part of the picture. Afterward, players must use their data to construct and deliver scientific arguments that convince NOAA to protect the marine national monument in accordance with their findings (which may or may not contradict their original hypothesis).