Nekton's Research Programme

Scientific objective

Our goal is to create a step change in our knowledge and understanding of the state of the ocean and establish the first comprehensive baseline of its marine life and impacts of human activity.

Nekton’s Research Programme

We undertake multidisciplinary, collaborative scientific research to investigate biological, chemical and physical indicators of change to:

  • Create a baseline of the scale and distribution of marine life.
  • Identify new species and extending the inventory of ocean life through genomic and taxonomic discovery.
  • Explore connectivity across depths and geography.
  • Document the impacts of human activity.

All research is conducted using the General Ocean Survey and Sampling Iterative Protocol (GOSSIP) - the first multidisciplinary standardised framework for marine biological research.

Nekton focuses predominantly on the following operating depths:

  • Altiphotic Zone (0m – 30m): At these shallow depths, plentiful food supplies support the dominance of competitive species and contain the greatest biomass in the ocean because of the proximity to sunlight.
  • Mesophotic Zone (30-150 m): The water column beneath scuba diving depth remains still largely unexplored, yet it is increasingly impacted by human activities.
  • Rariphotic Zone (150-300 m): Information for this recently discovered deeper reef zone is scarce, but available evidence suggests distinct benthic and pelagic communities residing at these depths. Like the mesophotic, this zone is increasingly exposed to human pressures.
  • Upper Bathyal Zone (300m – 500m): This largely uncharted habitat is characterised by hotspots of complex ecosystems including cold-water coral reefs, sponge beds and seamounts along with unique communities of life including deep-sea squids, whales and sharks. Critical for the planet’s carbon cycle, the Bathyal Zone is increasingly subject to fishing pressures and other human impacts.

Through developing standardized approaches and embracing new technologies, Nekton accelerates scientific discovery and produces actionable data that fosters policy change. Combined with our capacity building initiatives, Nekton creates a legacy of ongoing marine research and effective regional and global stewardship.

Networked Research: Collaboration & Partnership with scientific institutes

In order to maximize productivity, develop and share capacity, enhance knowledge transfer and deliver our scientific objectives within an accelerated timeframe, we collaborate with a network of scientists across disciplines and research institutions globally to undertake field research, data analysis, publication, capacity development and policy initiatives. The Nekton Oxford Deep Ocean Institute is the hub of this network, coordinating these partnerships, and where appropriate undertaking sample processing, data analysis and scientific publication and dissemination.