Partnering with Ocean Census to Accelerate Ocean Exploration and New Species Discovery

Ocean Exploration Trust and Ocean Census Partner to Accelerate Ocean Exploration and New Species Discovery
Ocean Exploration Trust

OET is excited to announce our new partnership with The Nippon Foundation-Nekton ‘Ocean Census’, the largest program in history dedicated to marine species discovery. OET joins an existing network of Ocean Census Alliance partners working together to accelerate the discovery of ocean life, catalyze its protection, and build human capacity, which creates an inclusive legacy within the marine science field.  

“We are thrilled Ocean Exploration Trust is taking an important role in the global effort to discover and protect ocean life,” says Oliver Steeds, Director, Ocean Census. “Only through joining forces with organizations like OET can the Ocean Census alliance operate at the scale and speed the ocean needs.”

Ocean Census is a collaborative project between The Nippon Foundation and Nekton and a consortium of collaborating partners that aims to accelerate the discovery of ocean life, providing open access data for the common good and associated knowledge exchange, science-to-policy initiatives, and communications activities. 

The Nippon Foundation and Nekton launched Ocean Census in April 2023 with the aim of revolutionizing our understanding of marine life. Scientists maintain that we have discovered little more than 10 % of the species that live in the ocean, despite it being home to an estimated 2.2 million species. The rate of discovery has remained relatively unchanged since the 1800s, with approximately only 2,000 new ocean species described per year. 

However, recent technological advances in high-resolution imaging, DNA sequencing, and machine learning mean that scientists can now considerably accelerate the process. OET and Ocean Census will collaborate broadly on species discovery efforts, including protocols for cyber-taxonomy, developing new technology for studying ocean life, and executing expeditions for future discovery. 

Nautilus explores areas of the deep sea that have rarely, if ever,  been seen by human eyes,” says Allison Fundis, COO, Ocean Exploration Trust. “Our partnership with Ocean Census will help accelerate the discovery and identification of new species in these areas whilst  ensuring local communities are appropriately involved in the entire process.”

For more than 15 years, OET has led expeditions around the world, generating a rich foundation of publicly-accessible data to enable follow-on research and management activities to better understand and care for the ocean. With all data and samples collected on E/V Nautilus expeditions submitted to publicly-available repositories, this partnership with Ocean Census will provide more streamlined pathways for new species discovery. 

The organizations also share the mission of inspiring global audiences to learn and care for the ocean. Audiences worldwide can join the 24/7 live-streaming expeditions from the deep sea via and social media. Using telepresence technology schools, camps, and community events are also encouraged to engage with explorers at sea scheduling free, live interactive Q&A sessions. Scientists can also collaborate on missions by joining the Science Networks of both organizations. 

“Together OET and Ocean Census will facilitate the discovery of new species from the deep sea - the largest habitat on Earth,” says Fundis. 

You can follow along and watch dives in real-time at