National Geographic announced this week it has partnered with underwater drone company OpenROV to launch the Science Exploration Education (S.E.E.) Initiative, a pioneering effort to explore the ocean.

Beginning in 2019, the S.E.E. Initiative will donate 1,000 underwater drones to explore, monitor and protect marine environments, thanks to funding from a coalition of supporters, including the Avatar Alliance Foundation, Rolex, the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, OceanX and a number of private philanthropists.

Filmmaker and National Geographic Explorer-at-Large James Cameron says:

“We need more people exploring the ocean. We need them to feel the sense of curiosity and wonder that drives all science and exploration. Putting these tools in the hands of scientists, students and educators through the partnership between National Geographic and OpenROV is exciting.”

The recipients of OpenROV’s Trident drones will document their fieldwork and research on Open Explorer, National Geographic’s community platform for explorers and scientists.

Open Explorer is an online community and digital field journal created to provide explorers and scientists a place to document, share and collaborate on expeditions in real-time, directly from the field. Created and structured by the Avatar Alliance Foundation, the S.E.E. Initiative builds on the momentum of the Open Explorer community, and engages audiences around the world in solving local and global conservation challenges.

David Lang, National Geographic Explorer and co-founder of OpenROV, says:

“One of the limiting factors for understanding the ocean is the risks, costs, and accessibility issues of experiencing these underwater ecosystems. Many researchers, citizen scientists and underfunded conservation efforts don’t have the resources to monitor, study and explore. And we need that data to make informed conservation and policy decisions. The S.E.E. Initiative is an effort to empower people of all backgrounds to help tell these ocean stories in a more meaningful way.”

Researchers, citizen scientists, educators, nonprofits, and students can apply for sponsor-funded Trident ROVs for any marine project through Open Explorer.

According to Lang:

“There’s never been a better time to be a curious person. New tools and technologies, like the Trident, are making science and exploration accessible. We’re helping people experience their world in a new and profound way. It’s not virtual reality. It’s not augmented reality. It’s just reality — the beauty, wonder and mystery of the unexplored world below the surface.”

For more info about Open Explorer and the S.E.E. Initiative, check out the website here.