The US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration has announced it will formalize and expand its longstanding partnership with the Schmidt Ocean Institute to explore and map the deep ocean.
According to retired Rear Admiral and Deputy NOAA Administrator Tim Gallaudet:
“We are living through a technological revolution that has opened new opportunities to more comprehensively understand the largely unknown ocean. 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.
According to Schmidt Ocean Institute co-Founder Wendy Schmidt:
“By coming together, we will accelerate how quickly we learn about our ocean not only on a national scale but also internationally. 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.”