The XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey is Nekton’s first multidisciplinary scientific research Mission to investigate the state of the deep ocean around Bermuda, Sargasso Sea and the NW Atlantic.

See All publications here

Read a summary of impact achieved during the Mission across marine research, capacity development, ocean governance and public engagement.


  • Field Research: 14 July - 15th August 2016
  • Taxonomic Acceleration Workshop (Bermuda): November 2016
  • Data Analysis & Publication: September 2016 - August 2018
  • Nekton Protocol Workshop (Oxford): March 2017
  • Protocol Announcement (Our Ocean Conference): October 2017
  • Analysis and publications:from February 2017
  • Presentation of Results to Bermuda: May 2018


  1. Scientific Research: Create a new standardised framework for deep ocean research and a baseline of the state of the ocean around Bermuda and the NW Atlantic Ocean.
  2. Capacity Development: Pioneer new research adaptations for submersibles and divers and provide grants and opportunities for leadership and involvement in Mission operations across marine science, conservation and ocean management in Bermuda and the NW Atlantic.
  3. Public Engagement: Promote the research and exploration of the ocean as a gateway for public engagement and increased ocean prioritization.
  4. Education: Create and a launch a new educational programme, Submarine STEM, freely distributed and linked to global curricula to accelerate ocean literacy.
  5. Policy: Engage public and political support for improved ocean management around Bermuda, and create actionable data to accelerate sustainable ocean governance in the region.


Locations: Bermuda, Sargasso Sea, Nova Scotia (NW Atlantic)


  • Research Vessel: CCGS Hudson

  • Sub deployment ship: Baseline Explorer
  • Technical Diving Boats: M/V Tiarra and Fountain

Submersibles: 2 Triton 1000/2 submersibles adapted with the latest scientific and filming equipment

Other Equipment

  • 1 ROV, multibeam sonar, corer, CTD, plankton nets.
  • Technical dive teams

Media: Reporting live from the mission and underwater from the submersibles

Download Cruise Report HERE.


Bermuda Platform

Research was focused around the Bermuda Platform in the western central Atlantic. The purpose was to identify patterns in the distribution of life across a series of locations, while concurrent documenting the environmental (chemical and physical) parameters of these sites. The Bermuda Platform is the eroded stump of a large volcano which formed during the Eocene (<45 MYA) and Oligocene (33-34 MYA) and is the largest of four volcanoes which run in a line trending north east and which include the Plantagenet and Challenger Banks and Bowditch Seamount. Although volcanism ceased in the early Oligocene, the seabed continued to swell into the Miocene forming the Bermuda Rise which is about 1,500km long and 500- 1,000km wide.

Sargasso Sea

Further offshore Bermuda is surrounded by the Sargasso Sea, an oligotrophic anticyclonic gyre traditionally associated with free-floating rafts of Sargassum weed. The Sargasso Sea ecosystem is vitally important as a migration route, foraging and spawning ground for threatened and iconic species of whales and sharks as well as several important, but now declining, commercial species including the European freshwater eel and blue-fin tuna.

Gully Marine Protected Area, Nova Scotia

Located 200km southeast of Nova Scotia, the Gully Marine Protected Area is the largest submarine canyon in eastern North America. It is home to a wide variety of organisms, including cold-water coral, diverse fish species and more than 14 different kinds of marine mammals, including the endangered Scotian Shelf population of Northern Bottlenose Whale.