Nekton Oxford Deep Ocean Research Institute

The aim of the Nekton Oxford Deep Ocean Research Institute (‘Nekton’) is to help change our knowledge and understanding of the world’s oceans to speed up the protection and governance of our last great wilderness, the deep ocean.

Established in 2015, Nekton is an independent, not-for-profit research institute working in collaboration with the University of Oxford and a UK registered charity

Nekton are catalysts. We undertake targeted activities across two major areas of operations:


  • OCTOPUS - the global ocean data portal - dynamically harvests and harmonises marine data to provide a holistic and dynamic view of the changing ocean state of the ocean, its biodiversity and human impacts. 

  • GOSSIP - the first multidisciplinary marine research protocol enabling marine scientists to generate comparable data on the function, health and resilience of the ocean.
  • AI: developing new machine learning tools to accelerate the analysis of video data from Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), submersibles and divers.
  • TECHNOLOGY: In collaboration with a network of subsea technology partners, we develop innovative new technologies to help accelerate marine research.


Nekton’s missions are co-developed hand-in-hand with host nations and combine scientific research, capacity development, ocean governance and public engagement.

  • Bermuda & NW Atlantic 2016-2018: Supported by an Alliance of 35 partners, the Mission resulted in the discovery of 100 new species and the Rariphotic Zone (130m to 300m), along with reaching a global audience of over 800million and 1 million students.
  • First Descent 2019-2022 Indian Ocean: Supported by an Alliance of 40 partners, First Descent is a series of expeditions to explore and conserve the world’s most unknown and least protected ocean, The Indian Ocean.
  • Weddell Sea Expedition 2019: In partnership with the Flotilla Foundation, Scott Polar Research Institute and others, to investigate life beneath the ice and the potential implications of climate change.

Nekton has been selected by the UK Government’s Great Campaign as an icon of UK leadership in marine science, conservation, innovation and exploration.