ROV SuBastian returning to R/V Falkor from a dive on the Rawaki seamount in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area. Schmidt Ocean Institute partnered with NOAA on a mission from 2015-2017 to explore deepwater areas of U.S. marine protected areas in the central and western Pacific. Courtesy/Schmidt Ocean Institute
NOAA today announced it will formalize and expand its longstanding partnership with Schmidt Ocean Institute to explore, characterize and map the deep ocean and boost public understanding of the global ocean.
“We are living through a technological revolution that has opened new opportunities to more comprehensively understand the largely unknown ocean,” said retired Navy rear admiral Tim Gallaudet, Ph.D., assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator. “To take advantage of this, NOAA is building and strengthening partnerships such as the one with Schmidt Ocean Institute, which will help accelerate our mission to explore, characterize and map the United States Exclusive Economic Zone, promote marine protection, and unlock the potential of valuable resources to power the American Blue Economy.”
Schmidt Ocean Institute was established as a philanthropically-funded nonprofit in 2009 by Eric and Wendy Schmidt to advance oceanographic research through the development of innovative technologies, open sharing of information and broad communication about ocean health.
Since 2013, SOI’s research vessel Falkor has supported more than 40 U.S. federal scientists on collaborative research expeditions around the globe and partnered with NOAA’s Office of Exploration and Research on expeditions to expand mapping and data collection for U.S. marine protected areas. This work included exploration and data collection in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, Pacific Remote Islands National Monument, and the Phoenix Islands Protected Area. These projects have resulted in jointly created maps and outreach activities including public ship tours, education campaigns and live broadcasts from the seafloor. (Watch this new video about the partnership)
“By coming together, we will accelerate how quickly we learn about our ocean not only on a national scale but also internationally,” said Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Ocean Institute. “The ocean has been under attack for decades and we don’t want to miss our last opportunities to turn this around. We need to work together—across philanthropy, government and academia—to advance scientific discovery and educate the public about our essential dependence on a healthy global ocean. This partnership with NOAA has the potential to expand the United States’ ability to explore and map a larger area of seafloor and publicly share the discoveries.”
The collaboration could support the recent Presidential Memorandum on Ocean Mapping in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone and Shoreline and Near Shore of Alaska and the goals announced at the November 2019 White House Summit on Partnerships in Ocean Science and Technology.
The partnership could also support global ocean initiatives, including the Nippon Foundation GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project to map the entire seabed by 2030 and the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
NOAA has also forged other key partnerships for ocean science and discovery with Vulcan Inc., Caladan Oceanic, OceanX, Ocean Infinity, Viking Cruises.