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Schmidt Ocean Institute to Boost Public Understanding of the Ocean Through Expanded Partnership with NOAA

Schmidt Ocean Institute announced today that it will formalize and expand its longstanding partnership with NOAA’s Office of Exploration and Research to explore, characterize and map the deep ocean and boost public understanding of the global ocean.

The newly signed memorandum of agreement with NOAA could expand the United States’ ability to explore, map the seafloor and publicly share the discoveries.

“This partnership has the potential to support not only national objectives, but also global ocean initiatives as well, including the Nippon Foundation GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project to map the entire seabed by 2030 and the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development,” said Schmidt Ocean Institute’s Executive Director Jyotika Virmani.

Since 2013, SOI’s research vessel Falkor has supported more than 40 U.S. federal scientists on collaborative research expeditions around the globe and partnered with NOAA’s Office of Exploration and Research on expeditions to expand mapping and data collection for U.S. marine protected areas. This work included exploration and data collection in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, and the Phoenix Islands Protected Area. These projects have resulted in jointly created maps and outreach activities including public ship tours, education campaigns and live broadcasts from the seafloor.

“The ocean has been under attack for decades and we don’t want to miss our last opportunities to turn this around,” said Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Ocean Institute. “We need to work together—across philanthropy, government and academia—to advance scientific discovery and educate the public about our essential dependence on a healthy global ocean.”

“We are living through a technological revolution that has opened new opportunities to more comprehensively understand the largely unknown ocean,” said retired Navy Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet, assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator. “To take advantage of this, NOAA is building and strengthening partnerships such as the one with Schmidt Ocean Institute, which could help accelerate our mission to explore, characterize and map the United States Exclusive Economic Zone, promote marine protection, and unlock the potential of valuable resources to power the American Blue Economy.”

Schmidt Ocean Institute was established in 2009 as a philanthropically funded nonprofit by Eric and Wendy Schmidt to advance oceanographic research through the development of innovative technologies, open sharing of information and broad communication about ocean health.

The collaboration with NOAA could support the recent Presidential Memorandum on Ocean Mapping in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone and Shoreline and Near Shore of Alaska and the goals announced at the November 2019 White House Summit on Partnerships in Ocean Science and Technology.

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