Western Indian Ocean nations commit to co-developing a new ocean policy and strategy to achieve regional goals.
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.
“The WIO-RPI will be an essential part of our region’s strategic and policy framework to ensure we maintain a prosperous and resilient Western Indian Ocean that is essential to our collective sustainable economic growth, to enhance our food security and to strengthen our resilience to climate change consequences,” said Seychelles’ Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Energy, Flavien Joubert.
Nekton is proud to be the Technical Partner for the Western Indian Ocean - Resilience and Prosperity Initiative (WIO RPI).
Ocean Rising Fireside Chat
Dr. Jyotika Virmani - Executive Director of Schmidt Ocean Institute - and Oliver Steeds - Chief Executive of Nekton Foundation, discuss the insights generated by the "Ocean Rising" workshop, held in July 2021 to explore how the public can be inspired regarding ocean issues. Themes include the arts, broadcast media, social media, sports/gaming, business and industry - as each of these sectors play a critical role in defining our diverse cultures and shaping human behavior.
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.
"Currently, there are few formalised training materials available to new marine researchers working in mesophotic and deeper reef habitats, especially for the Indian Ocean. The present benthic field ID guide will hopefully be of use to marine researchers, managers, divers and naturalists with the identification of organisms as seen in marine imagery or live in the field." Paris Stefanoudis – University of Oxford & Nekton
Nekton and Schmidt Ocean Institute kick off exciting new partnership to inspire the public
The two not-for-profit organizations released a white paper, Ocean Rising: The Quest to Inspire the Public that 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.
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.
“Our goal is to inspire people about the ocean. This is our planet, but an unknown one, full of wonder and mystery, with incredible landscapes and alien creatures,” said Dr. Jyotika Virmani, executive director of Schmidt Ocean Institute. “This is the United Nations Ocean Decade and elevating the understanding and appreciation for our ocean is a high priority. Through this collaboration, our goal is to bring the ocean to everyone.
“We protect what we love, and we need to find new ways for people to fall in love with the ocean,” said Nekton Chief Executive Oliver Steeds. “To connect the ocean to people, we need to connect our cultures to the ocean. That’s the first key challenge we are looking to address together.”
Both Nekton and Schmidt Ocean Institute plan to collaborate on public outreach and address other marine research and ocean data challenges together during the Ocean Decade, which started in January 2021.
Nekton and Schmidt Ocean Institute - Ocean Rising: The Quest to Inspire the Public published today
Read the Paper here
The ocean is a magnificent resource that quietly gives to all, but is rarely recognized for the role it plays in planetary and human health. In order to change this status quo, we need to inspire the public about the ocean as they are inspired by space. How do we get the populace to consider the ocean and its impact on our livelihoods, and inspire the public in substantive and meaningful ways? We argue that the key to transformation is targeting established industries outside of the community by providing successful examples, identifying what is missing, and making suggestions for a way forward.
This paper will take prior recommendations on how to inspire the public and put them into an actionable framework, engaging five different industries: the arts; broadcast media; social media; sports and gaming; and business and industry. Each sector plays a critical role in defining our diverse cultures and shaping human behavior. We encourage readers to explore each section individually or read in its entirety, and to share widely with those who have not yet engaged with the ocean. Our hope is that we can familiarize the public with the ocean – not just making them aware of its plight but engaging them with innovative and inspiring solutions.
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.
Confirmed Contributors: Actor Robert Sheehan (The Umbrella Academy and Misfits), F1 racing champion, Nico Rosberg, explorer and presenter Steve Backshall, astronaut and aquanaut Kathy Sullivan (who is also part of Biden’s transition team), World freediving champion Alenka Artnik, shark expert David Schiffman, technical diver and subject of Netflix documentary “The Last Breath” Chris Lemon, NYT journalist and author of “The Outlaw Ocean” Ian Urbina … and more….
Former President of Seychelles Danny Faure and UN Ambassador Peter Thomson join Nekton briefing
The briefing, hosted by Nekton's Oliver Steeds, discussed the Blue Economy and the critical role that business and financial institutions can play in 2021.
Billed as the Ocean Super Year, events including G7, COP26, The UN Ocean Summit, the Convention on Biological Diversity and others will see decisions made that will inform and define the future of our ocean and our planet for years to come.
Nekton invited to become a Nominator for The Earthshot Prize as the search for the first winners begins
Nekton is proud to have been invited to become a Nominator for the Prize – one of over 100 organisations from across the world invited to submit nominations, selected for our ability to identify the most impactful solutions across all sectors, from grassroots to businesses.
Together, the five Earthshots, – ‘Protect and restore nature’, ‘Clean our air’, ‘Revive our oceans’, ‘Build a waste-free world’ and ‘Fix our climate’, aim to generate new ways of thinking, as well as new technologies, systems, policies and solutions.
We will be nominating individuals, communities, businesses and organisations whose solutions make the most progress towards achieving the five Earthshots – simple but ambitious goals which if achieved by 2030 will improve life for us all, for generations to come.
Beginning today, the 5-stage prize process to select a winner for each Earthshot is as follows:
- Nominations: Our nominators will seek out solutions from across the globe that will help us reach our Earthshots
- Screening: Nominations will be screened as part of an independent assessment process run by Deloitte, our implementation partner.
- Shortlist: A distinguished panel of experts will support the judging process, making recommendations to The Earthshot Prize Council.
- Selection: Prince William and The Earthshot Prize Council select our five winners.
- Awards: The winners of The Earthshot Prize will be announced at an awards ceremony, which will take place in different cities across the world each year between
2021 and 2030.
Prizes could be awarded to a wide range of individuals, teams or collaborations – scientists, activists, economists, community projects, leaders, governments, banks, businesses, cities, and countries – anyone whose workable solutions make a substantial contribution to achieving the Earthshots.
After the awards, each winner will receive a global platform and prestigious profile, with their stories being showcased over the decade and the ambition that their solutions lead to mass adoption, replication and scaling. The £1 million in prize money will support environmental and conservation projects that are agreed with the winners. Shortlisted nominees will also be given tailored support and opportunities to help scale their work, including being connected with an ecosystem of likeminded individuals and organisations.
To find out more about The Earthshot Prize, visit www.earthshotprize.org.
Omega Seamaster Diver 300m Nekton Release
We are delighted to share the release of the OMEGA Seamaster Diver 300M Nekton Edition: a dive watch on a mission to save the seas.
Omega has a long ocean heritage, and the famous Seamaster has played a key role in OMEGA’s ocean story. A legacy acknowledged when we dubbed our research submersible Seamaster 2 in tribute to the boat skippered by the late Sir. Peter Blake. The legendary round-the-world yachtsman was a passionate advocate of ocean conservation and a close friend of OMEGA.
This fantastic timepiece is a tribute to Nekton and Omega's strong partnership, and a great way to show how innovation and ocean spirit can work together, which is exactly what we’re doing here at Nekton.
Find out more here
Nekton wins Ocean Award for Public Awareness at 2020 Ocean Awards
The Ocean Awards honour and celebrate people and organisations who work tirelessly to help address the crisis in our oceans. The Public Awareness Award recognises those who have advanced marine conservation objectives throughout the year. It is such an honour to have received this prestigious award and we are delighted to have been recognised in this category.
A huge thanks to all of our partners who made this possible.
Seychelles Designates 30% of its EEZ as Marine Protected Area
Approximately a third of Seychelles’ ocean territory, an area larger than Germany, will now be declared as protected under the National Parks and Nature Conservancy Act, totalling an area of 410,000 square kilometres. This is a result of the Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan, an output of the award-winning debt-for-nature swap co-designed by the Government of Seychelles and The Nature Conservancy.
NEKTON FIRST DESCENT MIDNIGHT ZONE HAS BEEN POSTPONED
Although there are no cases of coronavirus-Covid 19 aboard the Expedition’s research vessel the DSSV Pressure Drop, the decision was made to cancel the expedition.
Nekton, the Governments of Seychelles and the Maldives remain committed to undertaking this important research and the Expedition will be rescheduled when the situation allows.
“Due to the unprecedented global situation and overwhelming concerns about the COVID-19 virus, we have made the decision to cancel the Expedition. We are very disappointed, but we know it is the right thing to do. We remain fully committed to our work in the Indian Ocean and look forward to resuming our research as soon as the time is right.”, said Oliver Steeds, Nekton’s Mission Director.
Nekton First Descent Midnight Zone and Covid-19
We are taking the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) extremely seriously and are closely monitoring global and local developments. We are following the guidelines of the World Health Organisation, the Government of Maldives, Seychelles and the UK. We review the situation on a daily, often hourly, basis.
We are aware this is an ongoing, changing situation and we are continuing to work at the invitation and directives of the Governments of Seychelles and the Maldives.
We recognise that as the situation changes, either in the coming days leading up to the Expedition or during, then we will respond to the directives of Seychelles, the Maldives, WHO and/or the situation aboard as required.
We have reviewed the currents risks and remain committed to the mission and are currently proceeding under the invitation and direction of the Governments of Maldives and Seychelles.
We have implemented a strict policy relating to Covid-19 for participants - they will all be screened before they board and we have established procedures for mitigating and managing symptoms and outbreak aboard. We are following the guidelines of the World Health Organisation, including related to vessels, along with recommendations from the US Academic Fleet. We have been in touch with all key partners in Seychelles and the Maldives to develop and implement procedures around the Mission and the vessel's Emergency Response Plans. We have a number of medics aboard, a dedicated hospital, additional medical supplies, 24/7 remote medical support and a range of other systems and procedures in place.
12th March 2020
First Descent Midnight Zone launch celebrated with The Commonwealth
There was a packed crowd at the stunning Marlborough House, the home of the Commonwealth Secretariat on March 4th to hear about the Nekton's Midnight Zone expedition. In front of a panel of esteemed guests including Baroness Scotland, the High Commissioner of the Maldives, Her Excellency Farah Faizal and High Commissioner of Seychelles, His Excellency Derick Ally, plans for the next expedition were presented. Nekton Mission Director Oliver Steeds, Principal Scientist Dr Lucy Woodall, and Seychellois Scientist Sheena Talma explained the science and importance of studying seamounts and talked about our knowledge exchange programme. It was an uplifting gathering of people committed to ocean protection.
Would you like to join us on a deep dive on our expedition?
The two-day online auction begins at midnight on February 26th, 2020, for adventurers from across the globe to bid on the world’s most exclusive travel experience.
The highest bidder will travel to the Maldives and board Nekton’s manned submersible alongside Victor Vescovo, diving down to 3,000 meters below sea level where biodiversity peaks to visit an unexplored seamount in the Indian Ocean’s Midnight Zone.
The experience also includes stays at some of the world’s most exclusive luxury resorts, the opportunity to conduct a live deep-sea broadcast, and the chance to help create the first maps of uncharted seamounts. The highest bidder will also receive a documentary film detailing the entire journey.
All net proceeds will be re-invested into Nekton to support their ongoing conservation efforts. Nekton undertakes these missions to galvanize the protection and management of our oceans, aiming to support the protection of at least 30% of the ocean by 2030.
Exploration Beneath the Waves
On the 19th February, our partners Project Zero hosted the Exploration Beneath the Waves ambassadors evening. Held at the Amazonico London, in a room resembling the inside of a submarine with portholes looking out into the ocean, Oliver's talk took everyone on a journey into the deep ocean and what we can find as we descend. The night also celebrated the unveiling of Harland Miller's 'Save the Penguin' artwork.
Seychelles and Maldives announce expedition to explore Indian Ocean.
First Descent: Midnight Zone is a 35 day mission to support the sustainable governance of the Seychelles and Maldivian ocean including the protection of 629,000km2. A team of 50 international scientists, technicians, media and crew will be carrying out research to gather critical data to define conservation and management priorities and the designation of Marine Protected Areas. The expedition starts in Seychelles on March 16th 2020.
Research is focussed on seamounts in the Midnight Zone. The Midnight Zone describes ocean dpths between 1000ms and 4000ms. While biomass peaks in surface waters, biodiversity peaks within the Midnight Zone. The expedition will undertake the first research of seamounts in this area under the Indian Ocean. With high levels of biological endemism, seamounts are often described as "undersea Galapagoses", home to species found nowhere else on the planet.
To support a healthy, resilient and prosperous ocean, scientists are calling for 30% of the ocean to be protected. Currently only 2% is strongly protected and 8% is designated for protection.
First Descent: Midnight Zone is one of a series of expeditions that Nekton are carrying out across the Indian Ocean documenting changes beneath the waves in a bid to catalyse 30% protection by 2030.
Nekton Lecture At The RGS
On 21st October we gave a talk at the prestigious Royal Geographical Society in London on First Descent Seychelles.
Speakers at the event included Dr. Lucy Woodall - Principal scientist of Nekton, Sheena Talma - Seychellois Marine Biologist and Oliver Steeds - Mission director and CEO of Nekton. Initial scientific observations regarding seabed surveys and the interconnectivity between shallow-water reefs and deeper habitats were outlined and discussed by Dr Lucy Woodall. Sheena Talma gave a thoughtful and emotive talk regarding her experience on the Nekton research ship and her experience of collecting samples in a submersible. Oliver Steeds gave a full rundown of the pioneering technology and equipment gathered together by the small research charity through partners to make the expedition possible, and the technical challenges that at times resembled controlling the Bolshoi ballet on strings which was required to stream live to the world from under the ocean
An audience of 650 packed the lecture hall to hear the lecture alongside President Danny Faure of Seychelles who was also a surprise guest speaker. The president has worked closely with Nekton during the past year and visited the research ship during the expedition to giving the first live subsea presidential address regarding climate change from a submersible. After visiting Nekton HQ in Oxford the previous Friday to see the scientist’s progress on the samples and seabed surveys he was incredibly excited by the progress of the team. Other notable attendees include Rt Hon Patricia Scotland, Commonwealth secretary-general and H.E. Mr. Derick Ally, Ambassador of the Republic of Seychelles.
President Danny Faure of Seychelles visit to Nekton HQ
We were delighted to welcome President Danny Faure in our lab and office in Oxford on Friday 18th October. He met the whole Nekton team and was told about our ongoing research from our expedition to Seychelles. He examined some of the samples and was shown the first 3D maps of the seabeds of the islands. He also met with Seychellois scientist Sheen Talma who is currently carrying out research in Nekton's labs.
New scientists in the Nekton Lab
Nico Fassbender has joined Nekton today working as Research Assistant. Before moving to Oxford Nico worked as a science officer for the conservation charity Global Vision International in Seychelles. Originally from Monchengladbach in Germany, Nico studied Marine Biology and Zoology at Bangor University in Wales. In spring 2019 he was a member of Nekton’s science team on our expedition in Seychelles and is delighted to have joined us in Oxford.
Sara Winter is working as an intern in our Oxford lab. She recently finished her masters in marine biology at James Cook University after studying at Zurich University. She will be with Nekton for three months and is currently busy analysing the video data from Seychelles.
Teledyne marine technology workshop, San Diego
Mission Director Oliver Steeds gave the keynote speech at our technology partner, Teledyne Marine's Technology event in San Diego on 7th October 2019. Our Seychelles expedition would not have been possible without the "sea of solutions" provided by Teledyne that enabled us to carry out our vital science research. Their technological solutions were key to our science, safety and operations.
Technology & Broadcast: We are so proud and delighted that Associated Press has been awarded the prestigious IBC Innovation Award for their undersea reporting during our First Descent Mission in Seychelles. This technical award has innovative storytelling and creativity at its heart and was made possible thanks to the partnership between AP, Nekton, Sonarydyne, Live U and Inmarsat. This partnership helped to tell the story of the ocean in a profound new way and we are hugely grateful to our partners for their faith and commitment to pioneering live submersible broadcasting.
Seychelles Mission - Building a legacy
A key part of our mission and partnership with the Government of Seychelles is to develop the skills, knowledge and networks within marine science and ocean management. The Nekton team are leading a training workshop in Seychelles from 23th to 27th of September that will include video transects, data analysis, ocean literacy and media skills, scientific writing, publication and sample curation.
Nekton on the world stage
From the Global Exploration Summit in Lisbon to WEF Africa in Cape Town and from the NYC Explorers Clubto the FT Weekend Festival, the Do Lectures, the Commonwealth ICT & Innovation Summit and London’s Science Museum it has been a busy few months for Mission Director Oliver Steeds and Principal Scientist Lucy Woodall as they have travelled the world to share word about the discoveries and successes of the Seychelles Mission and the need to protect at least 30% of our ocean by 2030. Keep an eye for upcoming talks and events including a prestigious lecture at the Royal Geographical Society on 21stOctoberand with our partners Teledyne Marine in San Diego, London Shipping Week with Inmarsat and the Marine Measurement Forum with Sonardyne.
Seychelles mission - Accelerating data analysis
To accelerate analysis and publication, we've gathered experts together for a 2-week long taxonomic workshop in Grahamstown at the South African Institute of Aquatic Biodiversity to identify organisms that were collected during our field operations. The second week was devoted to training the next generation of early career researchers to taxonomy. The workshop in numbers:
- 23 people (13 experts + 10 trainees) participated either physically present or remotely
- 9 lectures were given (including five remotely via skype)
- 4 hands-on practical sessions IDying soft corals, sponges, brittle stars and hydrozoans
- 16 institutes involved so far with 4 more that are going to be involved post-workshop
Oxford fellowships for Seychellois scientists
We're delighted to have welcomed the recipients of the AfOx-Nekton Marine Science Fellowships at Oxford over the summer. In partnership with Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) and the Africa Oxford Initiative (AfOx), scientists from Seychelles have been in Oxford conducting ongoing research and analysis from the Seychelles Expedition.