Schmidt Ocean Institute

Schmidt Ocean Institute is a private non-profit operating foundation established in March 2009 to advance oceanographic research, discovery and knowledge, and catalyze sharing of information about the oceans. Since the Earth’s oceans are both critically endangered and the least understood part of the environment, the Institute dedicates its efforts to their comprehensive understanding across an intentionally broad scope of research objectives.

Eric and Wendy Schmidt established Schmidt Ocean Institute in 2009 as a seagoing research facility operator to support oceanographic research and technology development, focusing on accelerating the pace in ocean sciences with operational, technological and informational innovations. The Institute is devoted to the inspirational vision of their Founders that the advancement of technology and open sharing of information will remain crucial to expanding the understanding of the world’s oceans.

In October 2019, Schmidt Ocean Operations Director Eric King met with The Nippon Foundation Seabed 2030 Project Acting Director, Dr Graham Allen, at the Royal Society, for the joint signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two parties. The Institute committed to sharing all its collected mapping data with the Project, totalling one million square kilometers of data.

The Institute brings unique value due to its focus on mapping remote regions that require high-resolution seafloor imagery to contribute to expansion or additional protections. Some of its large mapping efforts have focused on the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii, Cocos Island National Park in Costa Rica, and the Phoenix Islands Protected Area in Kiribati.

The Institute has also set up dedicated mapping expeditions such as Mapping the Gaps using its own research vessel RV Falkor, to help fill the holes in previously collected mapping data. “Our organization is happy to see our data be a part of this collective initiative,” says King. “I look forward to a day when we can see an image of a fully mapped ocean.”

For more information about Schmidt Ocean Institute's contribution to Seabed 2030, see our news item.