OceanXplorer: On Board The Billionaire’s Research Vessel, Broadcasting From The Deep Sea

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OceanXplorer expands the concept of what a ship is like. The 87-meter-long vessel houses two deep-sea submersibles. (one for the scientists and one for the media) and a laboratory lit like a movie set. The red carpet was rolled out when I visited her ship in December. During the United Nations Climate Summit in Dubai. Located on a guarded side of the port, it has hosted esteemed guests such as Bill Gates and Jordanian royalty for several days. This is the world’s most advanced media and research vessel, according to Ocean. Her fortune comes from Ray Dalio, the 74-year-old American billionaire who founded Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund. “The combination of both [science and media] is our secret recipe,” Mark Dalio, his son and co-CEO of Ocean X, told reporters in another cloudless emirate. He explained the company’s unique selling points. 

What Is  Oceanx?

This name clearly reminds me of SpaceX. An American aerospace company founded by Elon Musk with the aim of making humanity a “space civilization.” Ray Dalio has withdrawn from the multibillion-dollar space race, but his decision to go in the opposite direction has competitive advantages. “It seems to me that exploration of the oceanx is much more exciting and important than exploration of space,” he told the Financial Times and other newspapers. “

We don’t see  aliens in space, but there are aliens down there.” Painting the fundamentally mysterious deep sea as the final frontier of American exploration won’t please everyone. But if you’ve ever watched a deep-sea documentary and marvelled at it, you understand the appeal, and the premise is true. According to the United Nations Marine Science Agency, only 5% of the oceans have been explored and mapped by humans in 4,444 years. OceanX’s mission is “to help scientists  explore the oceans and give back to the world through engaging media.” Founded in 2016, Darios’ ocean roots go back even further. 

In 2011, Ray purchased a research vessel called Althea and a bubble submarine. A team of scientists used it the following year to capture the first images of the elusive giant squid in its natural habitat. At the time, Mark, who was working as an associate producer at the National Geographic television network, proposed to his father the idea of ​​starting a multimedia company to document Althea’s adventures. They also had the honour of taking British national treasure David Attenborough on his first deep-sea dive in the Great Barrier Reef in 2015.

And Alucia itself (in 2018, he was put on the market for more than 18 million euros) was replaced by OceanXplorer. OceanXplorer is a former Norwegian oil exploration vessel that underwent extensive refurbishment after being acquired by Dalio. OceanX does not disclose the cost of its state-of-the-art diesel vessel, but one superyacht site estimates it at around 186 million euros, with annual running costs a tenth of that. “This is not a luxury yacht,” OceanX co-CEO and chief scientific officer Vincent Pieliborn told reporters in Dubai. “The fact that our country (the United States) does not have a ship like this is a national shame.

We Are Not A Tourist Attraction’: What Are Oceanx Submarines For?

Our tour begins in the OceanXplorer submarine hangar, directly in front of two bubble submarines. These Giant Plexiglas beads can carry small crews to depths of 1,000 meters. Optimized for researchers, the One features modular equipment, including “essentially It includes a machine that is a “vacuum cleaner,” submarine pilot Colin explains. It sucks samples from the ocean floor and sends them to the ship’s laboratory for processing. The other submarine is equipped with a series of cameras that can capture both the smallest marine life and wide-angle shots of the scientific submarine in action. It can also be transmitted in real-time by transmitting video signals to the surface of the earth via light beams. 

The marine biologist made the call last month to the World Economic Forum in Davos, just below the Seychelles, where the Ocean Explorer is currently based. Last year, 4,444 submariners (and billionaires) received some bad press after the deadly implosion of the Oceangate submarine Titan, which was on tour with the Titanic. “Of course, there’s a lot of attention on the industry,” says Andrew Craig, his ROV team leader at OceanX. “

But we operate these as scientific machines, not as pleasure boats. The  ROV (remotely operated vehicle) can descend 6,000 meters while attached to a cable, allowing it to collect samples in more remote locations such as hydrothermal vents and submarine volcanoes. The fact that he’s bringing all  this technology together in one ship is what makes OceanXplorer so unique, says Mark Dalio  from  the ship’s  control room, or “nerve center.” In front of gamer-style chairs, dozens of screens are illuminated with real-time footage of all the moving parts. As a non-scientist, I don’t understand it, but it certainly looks like it.

What Does The Ocean Science Team Do?

Materials transported from the depths are transported to a drying laboratory. The equipment here is smaller but no less sophisticated. For example, there are submillimeter resolution 3D scanners that can create digital twins of fish and store them in online databases. Much of this work fills gaps in our understanding. While they don’t necessarily discover new species, “which is especially common here,” says science program director Matty Rodrigue, the researchers do encounter species that have not yet been publicly recorded. In this case, a reference genome can be recorded, essentially by digitizing the DNA. Environmental DNA (eDNA) can also be collected from water, thereby recording an animal’s genetic fingerprint based on the cells it excretes. With enough information, you can even tell if your fish is pregnant or stressed, giving you clues as to how it’s adapting to changing conditions.

 “Truth on the ground” or “Truth in the ocean climate model” is how Rodrigue describes her extensive work. In the United Arab Emirates, for example, oceanography relies heavily on satellite data, which can lead to predictions being off. While visiting the city for COP28, Ocean “We think the ship and OceanX are at the forefront,” Mark says, “collecting all this data to better inform the scientific community and governments about how things are changing.

Lights, Camera, Action: What About  Oceanx And Want To Share Its Findings With The World?

Dr. Pieliborn, a professor of neuroscience at  Yale School of Medicine, laments that although there is a lot of research being done on climate science, the thousands of papers published each year go unreached.

So, How Do You Get Through?

The OceanXplorer is a vehicle that “combines functionality with the look of a movie set,” Mark says. Film director James Cameron (of Titanic fame) is another of the big names associated with OceanX. He has long been fascinated by the Ocean and the technology needed to explore its depths. He advised the team on building the Ocean Explorer. Bioluminescent coloured lights snake through the ceiling, and there’s also a hangar for operating overhead cameras. 

Lights are also embedded in the table to illuminate the researchers’ reactions and show the highs and lows of scientific research. The ship has up to 72 people on board when in full operation, a significant number of whom work in the media department. The Sea In Mark’s words, do we really need to “encourage the public to love the ocean”? Or, as Dr. Does, Mr. Pieriborn suggests that Ocean Explorer is an antidote to the attacks on US climate scientists, helping people understand the humanity of the experts?

Should Ocean Research Be Funded By Private Funds?

At a screening of National Geographic’s new series on a helideck, Mark Dalio says his role in its production is the realization of a “lifelong dream.” explained.

Are Personal Ambitions Important To Oceanx’s Objectives?

Does the most advanced ship of its kind primarily contribute to the Dalio family’s philanthropy “For better or for worse? ” Stephen A Edwards, then a policy analyst at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, wrote a decade ago, “The practice of science in the 21st century will be shaped  by national  and national priorities.” In its defence, OceanX is a joint venture. Because OceanXplorer is registered in the Marshall Islands, the cross-border nature of transportation means that permits must be obtained several months in advance, and cooperation with academic institutions and NGOs requires caution. Most major oceanographic public bodies, such as the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (UNESCO Oceanography), collaborate with OceanX in some way. 

The UK research body declined to comment on its funding for marine research, given its relationship with the association. However, Jeremy Weyrich, director of marine science at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), told Euronews Green that efforts by OceanX, the  Schmidt Ocean Institute, the Ocean Exploration Trust, and other philanthropic and private organizations “I absolutely welcome it,” he said. “To me, it’s not an ‘either’ issue. It’s an ‘and’ argument.

This means we need both philanthropic support and publicly funded maritime operators to provide valuable data and information about the unknown oceans,” he added. “Although the marine research community is still relatively small,  the unexplored and little-known areas of the Ocean remain vast. Fortunately, we are already beginning to shape our own projects and activities better. We’re working together to find a way to adjust.” Bullet points include numerous record-breaking achievements, enviable shark sightings, and exciting new numbers of dugongs.

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