Nekton Oxford Deep Ocean Research Institute

Our Purpose

Humankind is poised to make its next giant leap: into the deep ocean.

The deep ocean – beneath 200m (656 ft) – is the beating heart of our planet, and our largest and most vital ecosystem. And yet, we don’t fully understand how it functions or how healthy it is. We have better maps of Mars than we do of our own seabed and at least 95% remains unexplored.

What we do know is that human activity has disrupted the deep ocean and is damaging its ability to support life. The resulting changes directly impact all of us on many levels, affecting our climate, our food security, our livelihoods, our homes, our natural resources, and even the very air we breathe.

The majority of our planet remains unknown. The deep ocean is the greatest and most critical frontier of our generation.

Whenever we have travelled beyond the horizon, what we discover there has changed what we know and how we live with our planet.

Millions of species are yet to be discovered. New cures to diseases are to be found. The ocean's potential for our sustainable development can be unlocked. The power of ocean data can be realised. The origins of life itself are within our grasp.

When we journey into the unknown, we move forward.

Nekton’s purpose is to explore the depths of the ocean to reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind.

Our aim is to create a step-change in our knowledge and understanding of the ocean to accelerate its sustainable governance.


The core of our operations are exploratory Missions to different ocean regions. We work across four major areas of Scientific Research, Ocean Policy, Capacity Development and Public Engagement.

Our scientific research on the state of the ocean generates targeted, actionable data to catalyse policy. Our storytelling puts the ocean on the agenda in the newsrooms, the boardrooms and the corridors of power. Our educational programmes bring the ocean to the classroom of the world to inspire a new generation and accelerate ocean literacy. And through capacity development we achieve a legacy of marine science, conservation and ocean management.

  1. Science: Our multidisciplinary, collaborative scientific research programme - the Bathyal Survey - is focused on the upper 3000m of the ocean, from the surface into the Bathyal Zone (200m to 3000m), the home of the greatest biodiversity in the ocean. We develop and deploy pioneering new standardized approaches and technologies to accelerate scientific discovery and create a baseline of the scale and distribution of marine life and impacts of human activity. 
  2. Policy: The sustainable governance of the ocean is being hampered by a lack of scientific knowledge. Global policy-makers need actionable, open-access data about the state of the ocean to make better and informed decisions. Nekton is not an advocacy organization, and produces actionable open-access datasets, technical policy reports and new management tools from our Missions to help to inform and catalyse local and global policies to accelerate sustainable ocean governance.
  3. Capacity development: The implementation of improved and new management solutions and environmental impact assessments, requires major international, regional and local development in skills and capacity across marine science, conservation and ocean management. From ship to shore and throughout all of our operations, local and regional scientists, policy-makers and marine managers are integrally involved through coordinated programmes of Grants, training and career research exchanges. 
  4. Public Engagement: No longer will the deep ocean be out of sight and out of mind. The transparent hulls of our submersibles enable global audiences to witness people in the deep. Our global programmes of public engagement and education follow the voyage of our aquanauts into the last great unknown frontier on our planet to inspire ocean awareness and accelerate ocean literacy, giving decision makers a public mandate to act.

The Nekton Alliance unites leading organisations from marine science, ocean policy, business, media, education and civil society towards a common goal to explore and conserve the ocean

Our first Mission 2016-2018 was in Bermuda and the North-West Atlantic and our next Mission will be in the Indian Ocean from 2018 to 2021. Further missions are being identified in the Indo-Pacific, Pacific, Caribbean, Arctic and Southern Ocean to continue our exploration of the world’s five oceans.

Nekton is a scientific research foundation established in 2015. Nekton Foundation has been established as a Company Limited by Guarantee (Number 9644797), and is a Registered Charity (Number 1162666) with the Charities Commission in the UK. 

Nekton’s headquarters are in Oxford at the Nekton Oxford Deep Ocean Research Institute.

Download Nekton Annual Review HERE


Nekton is funded through philanthropy, foundations, corporate sponsorship and value-in-kind (VIK) donations for our partners.

  • Since 2015, we have successfully raised £3.8m (£2.3m of funding and £1.5m VIK), to undertake Mission I, the establishment of the Nekton Alliance and the Nekton Oxford Deep Ocean Research Institute.
  • In 2017, Kensington Tours have become Nekton’s launch partner for Mission II: Indian Ocean.

Investment Opportunities

Nekton is seeking new funding and partners for:

  • Nekton Mission II: Indian Ocean 2018-2021.
  • Nekton Oxford Deep Ocean Research Initiatives: specific research initiatives to accelerate scientific discovery.

Join the Nekton Alliance