A top mission to uncover and conserve our oceans

As of 2018, more than 80% of our oceans are still unmapped, unobserved and unexplored — and indeed, much of the deep blue sea remains to be explored. Furthermore, with millions of plastics being scattered all over the oceans, the natural habitat of sea inhabitants is in dire need of study and resurrection; scientists from CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research) have reportedly found microplastics even in the Great Australian Bight.

By Lara Tan

Microplastics and other pollutants pose a grave danger to all creatures beneath the waves, upsetting the food chain in the oceans. More attention and efforts are needed to protect and preserve the seas.

“National Geographic is uniquely positioned to amplify the urgency of global ocean conservation, not just through our world-class storytelling and unparalleled global reach, but also through National Geographic Society’s leadership in science, conservation and education,” said Courteney Monroe, president, National Geographic Global Television Networks.

And action speaks louder than words. National Geographic is launching Mission OceanX, a global six-episode series event that pairs a dream team of the world’s greatest ocean storytellers — filmmaker James Cameron and BBC Studio — in an advanced exploration and media vessel to showcase the mystery of the deep and the effects of sea pollutions.

Monroe explained: “Along with our partners, we hope that Mission OceanXwill not only entertain but also spark curiosity, help solve big problems and push the boundaries of what we already know about our oceans.”

An avid environmentalist, Cameron added: “In Mission OceanX, we’ll take viewers on an unparalleled ocean journey on the Alucia2 (currently the most powerful exploration, scientific research and media production vessel), introducing them to a group of principled, passionate people on a dangerous mission of ocean-discovery in real time.

“We’ll present the stakes and tell a visually spectacular and dramatic story — a story that inspires the next generation of explorers and adventurers committed to protecting and preserving our oceans.”

Julian Hector, the head of BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit, said: “Discovering and telling the stories of inhabitants hidden beneath the waves and sometimes in mind-boggling depths of water raises huge filming challenges.

“Not only does this truly one-of-a-kind ground-breaking ocean exploration take us to the boundary of what is possible to film, we will define new boundaries.”

Ray Dalio, founder of OceanX and president of Dalio Philanthropies, added: “I believe that ocean exploration is way more exciting and way more important to our lives than space exploration — and that it’s underappreciated.”

Combining cutting-edge technology and media sciences, OceanX launched Alucia2, an oil survey vessel retrofitted with a 40-ton man-rated A-frame strong enough to deploy submersibles and towed sonar arrays. The vessel also has a dedicated deployment bay that will allow for independent launch and recovery of piloted and autonomous underwater drones.

Alucia2 has two submersibles which can dive beyond a depth of 3,000ft for up to eight hours, going where no human has been before. In addition, the vessel’s on-board helicopter can conduct long-range search and deploy remote research teams and filmmakers from the skies.

Discoveries will be made on board using state-of-the-art land and sea marine laboratories, and the ship’s media studio will bring these discoveries to screens — potentially delivering ground-breaking scientific news in real time.

Mission OceanX will premiere in 171 countries and 43 languages on the National Geographic channel, zooming in on the Indian Ocean for the first season, with the aim that this will become a recurring series focusing on a different ocean each season.

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