It’s safe to say that Oliver Steeds is a fan of an adventure. From leading expeditions in the Gobi Desert to living with tribes in West Papua, the Amazon and the Congo, Steeds has a lifelong passion for pushing boundaries.
The next step? The dark abyss of the ocean floor, as Steeds is now mission director for Nekton, a foundation dedicated to ocean exploration, conservation and a greater understanding of the deep-sea environment, “Trillions of dollars have been spent opening up the ‘final frontier’ of outer space,” argues Steeds, “but despite its importance, we’ve invested a tiny fraction of these sums exploring the ‘inner space’ of our oceans.”
He continues, “We’ve come to the point where the most critical part of our planet, the deep ocean (below 200m) is the least known. We're in a race to discover it before we destroy it. We need to understand how to sustainably manage it before it’s too late.” Nekton undertake missions all across the world, with a recent dive discovering a never before seen deep-sea environment, a “mesophotic algal forest on top of seamount in Bermuda.” This, Steeds points out, is the equivalent to unearthing a rainforest that no one knew was there and illustrates just how little we know about the ocean floor.
Steeds argues that by reconnecting people with the ocean, there will be a bigger drive to protect it, “We are great story-tellers and are helping to reconnect humanity with the ocean.” This is where the collaboration between Nekton and Triton is so effective, “Triton’s transparent hulls enable us to witness people in the deep and it’s this single thing – to create a human link - that we need to reconnect us with the ocean.” Nekton and Triton are dedicated to educating people about the world under the sea, and as subsea technology advances, the deeper the researchers are able to go, “We undertake scientific research exploring the Bathyal Zone (200-2000m) to create the actionable data and content required to inform and catalyse policies on ocean governance, protection, and the sustainable development of the blue economy.”
At this year’s Global Superyacht Forum, Steeds will be presenting Nekton’s missions, objectives and explorations with Patrick Lahey, founder of Triton submarines and Rob McCallum of EYOS Expeditions. As Steeds explains, “The ocean needs the yacht industry to take leadership to support a sustainable blue economy and governance of the ocean. Now, more than ever, it’s essential we turn our gaze downwards into the abyss.”
All images courtesy of Triton and Nekton.