Our Missions and Initiatives achieve impact across conservation, applied research, knowledge exchange, technology development, ocean literacy, partner promotion and inspiring public engagement. Since launch in 2016, our highlights include:

Ocean protection

750,000 km2 of ocean protected (equivalent to more than twice the size of Germany).

Scientific leadership

Discovery of two of largest new ecosystems found on Earth in decades, The Rariphotic Zone (130-300metres depths) and The Trapping Zone (c. 500metre depths)

Global Engagement

26,000+ broadcast, digital and print stories, across 120+ nations.

Multi-award winning, live subsea factual TV series, newscasts and Presidential address

Education and Literacy

2+ million young people participating in Submarine Stem

Technology Development

8 new subsea research and broadcasting technologies developed and deployed.


Bermuda, NW Atlantic, Seychelles, Maldives, Comores, Weddell Sea (Antarctica)

2015, Nekton is established as UK charity with a founding grant from XL Catlin and then Garfield Weston Foundation. Founded by journalist Oliver Steeds, Professor Alex Rogers joins as Science Director and Nekton begins collaboration with University of Oxford.

  • ‘From journalist to helping save the oceans’ Forbes

Mission I: XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey


Bermuda & NW Atlantic Mission - underpinned by an alliance of 30 partners incl. Governments of Bermuda and Canada, 2 research vessels deployed, scientists from a dozen different research institutes collaborate, 6 Research Grants, teams of technical divers from 8 nations, two Triton submersibles, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and a dozen other research tools are deployed. 400+ submarine hours underwater. Collection and analysis of 40,000 specimens and samples, 240 video transects and 92miles of geophysical data. Mission details– 18 scientific papers published within 24months.

  • Giving the ocean a health check-up (Huff Post)
  • Exploring the Deep: From Our Own Correspondent (BBC)
  • Plunging Beneath the sea to map the ocean (New Scientist)
  • Discovering the largest migration on Earth (Guardian)
  • Coral bleaching is killing reefs (PBS)
  • Uncovering Secrets of the Deep Sea (Telegraph)

Deepest live radio show


World record breaking radio and comedy show broadcast from the depths with Sirius XM’s John Fugelsang - participation from Mark Hamill, David Crosby, Daily Show’s Lewis Black and others.

UNESCO World Heritage in the High Seas launched


Nekton join forces with UNESCO to launch major new initiative to protect the High Seas.

  • United Nations urge expanding World Heritage sites to High Seas (Science)
  • An Idea Whose Time Has Come (UNESCO); Watch launch film

Submarine STEM launched


New educational initiative launched in partnership with Encounter EDU and aligned to curricula worldwide with includes lesson plans, educational films and dynamic 360-degree films. Reaches over 1 million young people in first year.

Lionfish Invasion of the depths revealed


First scientific papers from Mission published revealing the deepest recorded evidence of lionfish in the Caribbean (PeerJ). New robots to kill lionfish at depth tested on Bermuda Mission.

  • How do you stop invasive lionfish? Maybe with a robotic zapper (PBS)

Global ocean data portal launched


Two years in development with the University of Oxford, OcToPUS (The Ocean Tool for Public Understanding of Science) is launched as the world’s first open-sourced, global ocean data portal providing a single source to freely access historical and current global marine data.

First multi-disciplinary field research protocol to standardise marine research


Piloted during Mission I (XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey), 16 leading marine scientists define the first multi-disciplinary standardised protocols for marine research, called GOSSIP. Standardisation accelerates data analysis and increases applicability and impact to inform ocean management and conservation. Full details.

  • The General Ocean Survey and Sampling Iterative Protocol – ‘GOSSIP’ - Oceanography.
  • GOSSIP – the film (Nekton)

VR Film to full ocean depth launched with Don Walsh


Narrated by Captain Don Walsh, a unique 360-VR film revealing the story of the journey 7 miles down to full ocean depth. In 1960 Walsh and Jacques Picard became the first to descend to Challenger Deep - codenamed ‘Project Nekton’.

  • The True Story behind the deepest dive in history (Telegraph)
  • Dive into the Deep – as Don Walsh narrates a 360 degree simulation of his record breaking descent in this stunning video (Dive Magazine)

Sky Ocean Rescue Launched


Sky Plc launch major initiative to raise awareness of ocean plastic – citing their coverage of, and participation in Nekton’s mission in Bermuda – including on ocean plastics - as the spark.

  • Scientists Health Check of the World’s Oceans (Sky News)
  • Sky Ocean Rescue (Sky)

Deep Ocean VR Art installation opens at European City of Culture


Recorded during the Bermuda Mission and curated as a multi-screen VR experience, audiences at the European City of Culture 2017 experience life beneath the waves.

Kensington Tours becomes Founding Partner of Nekton


The leading luxury travel company in North America, Kensington Tours commits to long-term support of Nekton’s operations and the next series of Missions. The mission’s submersible to be named Kensington Deep.

Scientific discoveries from Bermuda Mission revealed


  • New Black Coral species named(Zootaxa.),
  • Discovery of dozens of new species confirm biodiversity hotspot discovered in Bermuda (Journal of Phycology)
  • Deepest DNA sequenced algae(European Journal of Phycology)
  • Deeper reef fish fauna limiting applicability of deep refuge hypothesis & vulnerability of deep reefs to targeted fishing pressure and invasive species (Frontiers in Marine Science)
  • New I/D guide to Bermuda marine species published – including 100 new species discovered on the Mission - free online.
  • Unique biological communities found at mesophotic and rariphotic depths(Royal Society);
  • New algae species discovered reveals new details of trans-ocean distribution (Journal of Phycology)

New Ocean Zone – Rariphotic Zone


Discovery of the Rariphotic Zone - the Rare Light Zone – in depths from 130m to 300m is confirmed in the waters around Bermuda. Over 100 new species discovered. Reported as ‘one of the largest new ecosystems found in the world in decades’.

  • 100 species discovered as scientists find new ocean zone (Telegraph);
  • 100 new species discovered in Bermuda’s Twilight Zone (NY Post)
  • Exploring a new ‘Zone’ of deep-sea coral life – Hidden in Plain Sight (News Deeply)
  • Discovering the Rariphotic Zone (Nekton Film – 2minute, 15minute)

Omega Becomes Mission Partner for First Descent 2018-2022


Omega announce their multi-year support and partnership to undertake a series of missions to explore and conserve the world’s most unknown and least protected ocean, the Indian Ocean. The mission’s submersible to be named Omega Seamaster II. Mission details.

  • First Descent – narrated by Morgan Freeman – launch film

Comores Expedition


Pathfinder mission for First Descent: Indian Ocean - in partnership with WildTrust, CORDIO East Africa, South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, University of Comoros. ROV deployments to establish initial morphological data to inform future research in the Indian Ocean. Mission details.

Weddell Sea Expedition


In partnership with the Flotilla Foundation, Scott Polar Research Institute, Nelson Mandela University, University of Cape Town and the University of Canterbury – deploying AUVs and ROVs to investigate life beneath the ice and the potential implications of climate change. Mission details.

  • An international expedition to Antarctica’s icy frontier (Geographical)
  • Antarctic Expedition hopes for Ernest Shackleton bonus (BBC)

Bermuda announce 20% ocean protected


The Government of Bermuda commit to protecting 20% of their ocean territory. Nekton’s mission – XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey – credited as galvanising force for public and political support for the new ocean management initiative. The datasets are critical for marine spatial planning, designation of protected areas and management.

  • Marine Sanctuary planned for island - BerNews

First Descent launched with Alliance of 40 partners


An Alliance of 40 partners join forces including Mission Partners Omega and Kensington Tours and Strategic Partners - The Commonwealth, Teledyne Marine (Subsea Technology) Associated Press (News Agency), Sky (News & Media Partner), Inmarsat (Satellite Communications), Helly Hansen (Apparel) and Brownie Global Logistics (Submersible Operations).

  • Scientists prepare to explore uncharted depths (Daily Mail);
  • Indian Ocean depths to be explored for the first time (NBC);
  • Scientists to investigate climate change effects in Indian Ocean (NY Post)

Deep Blue Grants launched


New Grant programme established and launched with the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) to fund six Seychellois researchers to conduct innovative deep-sea research in Seychelles. More details on Knowledge Exchange programme.

  • Creating a legacy of marine science and ocean management (with SeyCCAT)

First Descent: Seychelles


To support the Government’s commitments to protect 30% of the their ocean (over 400,000 km2) and TNC’s marine spatial planning work, the Mission systematically gathers the first data beneath 30 metres across 7 major sites in Seychelles. By the numbers: 10 Seychellois scientists, 2300 nautical miles, 21 research tools, team from 14 nations, 21 research technologies, 6 new technologies and system developed, 300+ science deployments, 1200+ biological samples, 20 TB of ocean data.

  • View Mission Trailer (2mins), Deep Dive (8mins) with President of Seychelles.
  • 4,391 Broadcast packages air in 140 nations & 15,000 articles in print and digital cover the mission (CGTN, Euronews, NY Post, SBS, Independent)
  • ABC’s Good Morning America live from the depths (ABC)
  • Scientists believe they found the ‘Twilight Zone’ in Indian Ocean (Global News)
  • Blazing a trail in marine conservation (Radio France International– article & podcast)
  • Ground breaking Indian Ocean Science Mission reaches end (CTV)

First Live deep ocean submersible broadcasts, subsea documentary series and newscasts


First Descent: Live is broadcast from the Mission’s submersible deep beneath the waves to global audiences by Associated Press. Deep Ocean Live with Sky is the first live subsea documentary series and newscasts broadcasting 7 hours live, over 3 days from the Nekton’s mission to an audience of 110 million in 120 nations.

First Live Subsea Presidential Address


President Danny Faure calls on the world to protect the world’s ocean from under the ocean in a Nekton submersible. It becomes the biggest news of the day globally.

Submarine STEM Live & Awards


600,000 students engaged across 16 nations with live links and educational broadcasts from the Mission.

Indian Ocean Taxonomy Symposium


Nekton’s first marine taxonomy symposium held at South African Institute of Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) accelerating identification of species discovered on First Descent Seychelles and training the next generation of early career researchers.

  • 23 people (13 experts, 10 trainers, 9 lectures). 16 Institutes collaborating on analysis and publications.

Oxford Fellowships for Seychellois Scientists


The first Seychellois scientists begin Fellowships at the University of Oxford – in partnership with Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) and the Africa Oxford Initiative (AfOx).

Maldives announce commitment to ocean protection and next Nekton mission


President of Maldives announces commitment to protecting at least 20% of their ocean and undertaking the next Nekton mission to focus on a series of critical seamounts to inform marine spatial planning and sustainable fisheries management.

Yachts for Science Launched


In partnership with Boat International, Yachts for Science is launched to match marine scientists with private vessels to undertake field research. Further details.

  • Calling All Superyacht owners and crew! Critical ocean research needs your help (Boat International)

Seychelles announce 30% protection of its waters


Data from First Descent: Seychelles mission supports the Government of Seychelles and TNC's Marine Spatial Plan and their designation of protected areas and ongoing management.

  • Seychelles sets up protection for 30% of surrounding sea (Al Jazeera)
  • Seychelles achieves 30% Marine Conservation Commitment (Nature)

First Descent: Midnight Zone Mission


With the Governments of Seychelles and Maldives, joint mission to develop regional scientific and ocean governance cooperation is announced to research and protect a series of key seamounts and inform the protection and management of 630,000km2of ocean. Mission details.

Mission postponed due to covid.

  • Scientists to dive into the Midnight Zone (ABC News),
  • Exploring the Indian Ocean’s Midnight Zone (Washington Post)
  • Midnight Zone mission to study the effects of climate change on deep seamarine life (Daily Mail)
  • Seychelles and Maldives Joint statement
  • First Descent: Midnight Zone (Launch film)

Omega Seamaster Nekton Edition Launched


To mark Omega's partnership with Nekton, we jointly launch the OMEGA Seamaster Diver 300M Nekton Edition: a dive watch on a mission to save the seas. The unique timepiece includes an engraving of the Seamaster II submersible on the back that is deployed during First Descent missions.

Nekton publishes the first Benthic Reef Field Guide of the Seychelles


Published in the peer-reviewed, open-access Biodiversity Data Journal, the field identification guide aims to showcase the benthic organisms that inhabit the Seychelles’ deeper reefscapes.

Nekton and Schmidt Ocean Institute kick off exciting new partnership to inspire the public


Ocean Rising: The Quest to Inspire the Public outlines industry actions that have brought awareness to ocean science and sustainability. The paper looks at different sectors and areas of collaboration, highlighting new opportunities to engage the arts, broadcast media, social media, sports, gaming, fashion, food and others.

Read the Paper here

A virtual workshop was held on July 7th as part of the UN Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development Labs, in tandem with the white paper release, to discuss how each sector plays a critical role in defining culture and shaping human behavior.

Launch of Catch Our Drift, Nekton's brand new podcast for people who love the sea


Catch Our Drift is a new fortnightly podcast for people who love the sea brought to you by Nekton working in partnership with OneOcean Flotilla. Co-hosted by marine biologist Dr Helen Scales and submersible pilot and Nekton Mission Director Oliver Steeds, it uses storytelling to promote ocean conservation. It’s entertaining and inspiring and appealing to a wide range of listeners with all that is exciting, uplifting, dramatic and concerning in the ocean. It provides news and views to engage and inform an audience of ocean experts and novices during 2021, the Ocean Super Year.

Western Indian Ocean: Resilience & Prosperity Initiative (WIO-RPI)


At the Nairobi Convention COP10, the ten governments of the Western Indian Ocean nations unanimously agreed to co-create an ambitious new regional ocean strategy and accompanying policies to support sustainable ocean development underpinned by science-based management.

The goal of this programme – ‘The Western Indian Ocean – Resilience & Prosperity Initiative’ (WIO-RPI) – is to define the policy and design the first five-year strategic plan to be presented for ratification at the Nairobi Convention’s COP11 in 2023.

Extreme-E: Marine science partners for the global electric SUV race


Nekton becomes marine research partners of Extreme E, the innovative electric off-road racing series Nekton Principle Scientist, Dr. Lucy Woodall is on the scientific committee advising Extreme E on the series’ education and research programmes, event logistics and impact as well as the recommendation of positive legacy initiatives which support local communities in each race location.

First Descent: Maldives Mission


In partnership with the Government of the Maldives, anchored by the Office of the President and Ministries of Fisheries, Environment & Climate Change, the mission is the first systematic survey and sampling of the Maldives from the surface to 1000 metre depths to help inform the protection of extensive new protected areas and sustainable ocean governance. The mission’s also served to amplify the voice of Maldivian scientists, conservationists and policy makers in national and international media:

  • 10 Maldivian Aquanauts and 24 scientists from 9 countries (70% Indian Ocean)
  • 352 scientific deployments (including submersibles, ROV, CTDs, neuston nets, landers & BRUVs)
  • 295km2 of seafloor mapped (the same size of the land area of Maldives)
  • 2900+ broadcast and digital content features across 280+ broadcasters, 1150+ digital & print publishers in over 120 countries

View Newsroom (with Associated Press)

More details on the Mission

Discovery of the Trapping Zone


Conclusion of Maldives Mission’s research reveals the discovery of a new ecosystem at depths around 500metres across the Maldives. Defined by the steep subsea vertical cliffs and shelving terraces of the Maldives that provide the geomorphological conditions that support and trap ocean life, the team name it ‘The Trapping Zone’. It is highly likely to exist in other oceanic islands and also on the slopes of continents. Watch the Discovery of the Trapping Zone.

"The discovery of ‘The Trapping Zone’ and the oasis of life in the depths surrounding the Maldives provides us with critical new knowledge that further supports our conservation commitments and sustainable ocean management, and almost certainly support fisheries and tourism”
President of the Maldives H.E Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Coverage includes:

COP27: YouTube


The ‘Memo To COP27’ campaign calling on COP27 to act now in the face of the climate crisis becomes the top three most viewed content on YouTube about the Summit.

Deep Reefs Protection @ Nature COP


Released coinciding with the ‘Nature COP’ in Montreal, Nekton leads calls for the urgent conservation of the deep reefs, one of the planet’s largest and least protected ecosystems. Calls are underpinned with ground-breaking research revealing:

  • Very few deep reefs have any form of protection, and face a multitude of threats, set only to escalate in the near future.
  • Deep reefs are found below 30m and have a larger geographic range than shallow reefs.
  • Deep reefs are biological hotspots, essential for climate change resilience, ocean health and food security, and a refuge for ocean life threatened in shallow waters

Read the paper

Watch Summary video

Microplastics in Antarctica


Released to coincide with the Global Plastic Treaty negotiations, Nekton’s research from the Weddell Sea Expedition reveals Antarctica to be a sink for microplastic pollution as well as a major airborne issue with synthetic fibres from textiles travelling by air from southern South America. Headlines include:

  • Microplastic fibres discovered in all samples (air, seawater, sediment and sea-ice).
  • Synthetic fibres were found in Antarctic air for the first time – confirming Antarctic animals and sea-birds, such as penguins could likely be breathing in plastic.
  • Modelling analysis reveals South America to be a major source of airborne microfiber pollution in Antarctica.
  • Laboratory analysis combined forensic science techniques (more commonly associated with ‘CSI')

Read More: Daily Mail, Phys.org

Watch Summary Film

Read Paper