Strategic Focus and Approach

The Nekton Way

Nekton was established to accelerate the scientific exploration and protection of the ocean. We work with and on behalf of ocean nations who are committed to improving the prosperity, resilience and sustainable governance of their ocean.

Each Mission is co-developed and co-delivered with the Government, academic, civil society and media partners of each host nation. Each Mission combines applied research, knowledge exchange, ocean policy and inspirational public engagement activities to achieve maximum impact. All data and biological specimens are owned and vested by the host nation.

We work with our Alliance of Partners to provide funding, state-of-the-art marine research platforms and technologies, along with international teams and expertise to support mission implementation.

Applied Research: To inform & catalyse ocean policy through

  • Generating new multi-disciplinary marine datasets for accurate marine spatial planning.
  • Determining conservation priorities for marine protected areas.
  • Establishing scientific baseline of marine life and ocean health for long-term monitoring and management.
  • Curation and open access publication of all data.

Knowledge Exchange: To create a legacy of leadership, skills, knowledge and network within the host nation and empower long-term sustainable ocean governance through

  • Marine Research & Ocean Management Grants
  • Field research participation and leadership
  • Marine research, ocean management and taxonomic training and workshops with international experts
  • Co-produced knowledge sharing publications and conservation tools
  • Fellowships for early career scientists to University of Oxford

Public Engagement: To inspire and engage host nation, regional and international audiences to

  • Promote sustainable marine tourism as a pillar of the Blue Economy
  • Strengthening the public mandate for political action
  • Creating a new cadre of host nation Ocean Leaders in the local, regional and international spotlight

Mission Schedule & Implementation

Each Mission follows a structured schedule over a minimum of an initial 2 year period designed to generate rapid results for ocean governance and management:

  • Establish Partnerships: Across marine science, knowledge exchange, public engagement, ocean policy and management.
  • Planning & Launch: determining needs and priorities to subsequently co-define objectives, strategy, roles, critical path, key performance indicators, research locations, cruise plans, marine datasets for ocean management. Public launch of Mission and Knowledge Exchange Program (including Grants & Fellowships) and Aquanaut Programme for host nation scientists.
  • Field Operations: co-delivered by host nation partners with Nekton and Nekton’s Alliance of international partners including from research, subsea technology, media and civil society.
  • Taxonomic Acceleration Workshop, Visiting Fellowships: host nation scientists and international experts join forces toaccelerate the identification of specimens and provide training. Visiting Fellowships for early career scientists to international research institutes.
  • Data Analysis and Publication: A series of networked laboratories, combining host nation research centres with Nekton’s laboratories and participating global institutes, collaborate on data analysis and publication, drawing on world-class expertise to develop capacity and accelerate findings.
  • Results & Skills Workshop: Partners convene to share discoveries and draw conclusions to inform ocean policy, management and governance outcomes and further steps towards long-term knowledge exchange.
  • Actionable Datasets & Tools: defined, generated and presented to inform marine spatial planning including new bathymetric data, species guides and ecosystem assessments.
  • Presentation of Results & Public Engagement: National ocean symposium presenting data, publications, reports and films from the Mission to the Government, partners and general public.
  • Open access data & curation: All data is archived and provided open-access on major ocean data platforms (subject to government approval) and all specimens curated in permanent collections in host nations (or with regional partner institutions if required).


"How the Indian Ocean changes in the coming decades will profoundly affect the lives, livelihoods and wellbeing of the 2.5billion of us living in the region. Nekton’s work in the Indian Ocean is critical to galvanising action to ensure we restore the health and prosperity of our ocean and our blue economies”.

Danny Faure, President of Seychelles

"I am incredibly proud of the partnership we are developing with Nekton. All the data from Nekton’s missions will enable us to make better policies, make better choices and hopefully not make the same mistakes in our ocean that we have already made on land.”

Baroness Scotland, Commonwealth Secretary General

"Nekton is boldly undertaking exploration of the vast depths of the sea with new technologies and new ways of communicating the urgent message that everything we care about - the economy, health, security and most importantly, our existence - depends on understanding and protecting the living ocean..."

Dr. Sylvia Earle, Founder, Mission Blue, Ocean Elder

"The most critical journey we must now take, is not up to the stars, but down into the abyss with Nekton."

HM Queen Noor of Jordan, Patron of IUCN, Ocean Elder

"The destruction of the ocean, the key to life on our planet, is happening. Nekton is a call for urgency and action, not despair.”

Jean-Michel Cousteau, President of Ocean Futures Society, Ocean Elder

“Nekton is conducting research that will mark a step-change in our knowledge of the Indian Ocean. The Mission, which represents the best in the UK’s marine science, technology and environmental protection offer, will work with Indian Ocean governments to help inform sustainable ocean governance and policy and concludes with the State of the Indian Ocean Summit in 2022.”

Nigel Casey, UK High Commissioner to South Africa

(UK Statement, Indian Ocean Rim Association, Council of Ministers)