Schmidt Ocean Institute is a 501(c)(3) private non-profit operating foundation established to advance oceanographic research, discovery, and knowledge, and catalyze sharing of information about the oceans. 

Editorial Focus Article - Earth & Space Science News - Women in Oceanography Still Navigate Rough Seas

June 06, 2019

Earth & Space Science News article about challenges female scientists in oceanography face features many Principal Investigators and researchers who have sailed on R/V Falkor.

Oceanographer Ivona Cetinic preps instruments for a research cruise aboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s R/V Falkor in 2017.Credit: NASA

R/V Falkor Finishes Shipyard - Heads to Sea

May 29, 2019

R/V Falkor departs Portland, heading down Columbia River, after a 60-day shipyard period. Up Next: a week of sea trials to test many of the upgrades to both the ship and Remotely Operated Vehicle SuBastian. After trials, The Seeking Space Rocks expedition team begins their search around the site of the March 2018 meteorite fall over the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

Editorial Focus Article - WIRED Magazine - SEAFLOOR MAPS REVEAL UNDERWATER CAVES, SLOPES—AND FAULT LINES

May 05, 2019

WIRED Magazine article about the importance and applications of seafloor mapping features images of ROV SuBastian and quotes from SOI team members.

Hydrothermal vent and cold seep environments discoveries in Gulf of California

March/April, 2019

While exploring hydrothermal vent and cold seep environments during the Microbial Mysteries expedition, Dr. Mandy Joye (University of Georgia), and her interdisciplinary research team made several amazing discoveries, including discovered large venting mineral towers that reach up to 23 meters in height and 10 meters across. These towers featured numerous volcanic flanges that create the illusion of looking at a mirror when observing the superheated (366ºC) hydrothermal fluids beneath them. The minerals across the features were laden with metals and the fluids were highly sulfidic, yet these sites were teeming with biodiversity and potentially novel fauna.

ROV SuBastian measuring the temperature at a hydrothermal vent in the Guaymas Basin. This black smoker vent was named “Falkor’s Fountain” (image from starboard side, looking to port, across the large flange at the top is fantastic).ROV SuBastian / SOI

New Deep Sea Animal Discoveries Warrant Expanded Protections in Costa Rican Waters

January/February, 2019

Scientists aboard​ Schmidt Ocean Institute’s​ research vessel Falkor surveyed deep-sea seamounts outside Isla del Coco UNESCO World Heritage site revealing coral communities with surprising diversity during the “Costa Rican Deep Sea Connections” expedition.

At least four new species of deep-sea corals and six other animals that are new to science were found. This expedition represents the first time that seven of the seamounts in the area have been surveyed.

New Undersea Maps Lead to Hydrothermal Vent and Species Discoveries

November/December, 2018

Researchers, including Dr. Ronald Spelz Madero, aim to characterize the kinematics and past rupture history of several important fault systems in northern Baja California.SOI / Monika Naranjo Gonzalez

Autonomous and interactive robotic seafloor mapping systems were used on an expedition aboard research vessel Falkor in the southern Gulf of California, leading scientists to a new hydrothermal vent field and enabling the discovery of new deep-sea organisms.

Cover, Editorial Focus Article - ECO Magazine

November/December, 2018

The November/December issue of ECO Magazine features an image made by ROV SuBastian from the #DeepCoralsOfPIPA expedition on its cover. Additionally, the Editorial Focus Article is about research sponsored by Schmidt Ocean Institute this year: “Underwater Paradigm Shift: How advancing technologies are changing the way scientists study the ocean” (Begins on page 24).

Eco Magazine Cover Nov/Dec 2018 Issue

Seeker Media - Ep. 4: How Close Are We To Completely Mapping The Ocean?

November 24, 2018

Schmidt Ocean Institute features prominently in the Fourth Episode of Seeker Media’s video series “How Close are We?”, exploring how today’s discoveries in science, math, engineering, and technology are impacting humanity and shaping our future. The episode includes interviews, footage, and information from SOI staff and expeditions.

Artificial Intelligence Guides Exploration and one of the World’s Largest Multiresolution 3D Photogrammetric Reconstruction of Seafloor

August, 2018

Researchers aboard Schmidt Ocean Institute’s research vessel Falkor used autonomous underwater robots, along with the Institute’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) SuBastian, to acquire 1.3 million high resolution images of the seafloor at Hydrate Ridge, composing them into the largest known high resolution color 3D model of the seafloor. Using unsupervised clustering algorithms, they identified dynamic biological hotspots in the image data for more detailed surveys and sampling by a remotely operated vehicle. More on the expedition website.

Images acquired by the robots were processed through unsupervised clustering. The algorithms sorted each photo based on perceived similarities. This image shows different clusters of images (shown with different color outlines) and the location where the images were acquired.Blair Thornton

SOI one of MTR's ``Top 10`` Ocean Influencers

August 16, 2018

Schmidt Ocean Institute is featured in the 2018 Marine Technology Reporter 100, an annual showcase of innovators in the maritime industry, with an added honor of being named one of the Top 10 Ocean Influencers.

Fleet of Aerial, Surface and Underwater Robots Maps Ocean Front

June/July, 2018

Trent Lukaczyk flies a Flightwave Edge off the storage deck of the R/V Falkor.SOI / Mary Lide Parker

Using multiple autonomous vehicles simultaneously, an interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers returns to the United States after exploring the North Pacific  Subtropical front – a sharp boundary where cold fresh waters from the north meet warm salty waters from the south. The fronts are the most conspicuous oceanographic phenomena and the goal of this project was to demonstrate the use of distributed autonomous robotics to detect, track, and characterize these complex and dynamic processes with high accuracy across large spatial and temporal scales.

Scientists Voyage To The White Shark Café

May/June, 2018

Screenshot from the Integrated Ocean Observing System Animal Telemetry Network (IOOS ATN), showing White Shark travels around the Pacific. Image credit: IOOS ATNIntegrated Ocean Observing System Animal Telemetry Network (IOOS ATN)

Scientists are a step closer to understanding what draws white sharks each spring to the “White Shark Café”, an offshore aggregation area halfway between Mexico and Hawaii in the Pacific. An interdisciplinary research team from five Institutions led by Stanford University Marine Biologist Dr. Barbara Block, has just completed a month-long expedition aboard Schmidt Ocean Institute’s research vessel Falkor. Using an array of cutting-edge and traditional oceanographic instruments, the scientists studied the Café ecosystem in unprecedented detail, yielding new insights into its appeal to these apex predators.

Deep-Sea Exploration Gives New Insight and Discoveries in Largest and Deepest UNESCO World Heritage Site

November, 2017

Two large (2m wide) Plexaurid Corals with brittle stars on Orona Atoll.

Seventeen underwater robotic dives have been made using ROV SuBastian, completing the first expedition of the islands and eastern seamounts of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) in the nation of Kiribati. This follows an initial exploration of the western seamounts by the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. “This journey was in the tradition of the grand research expeditions of the past,” said Chief Scientist Dr. Erik Cordes from Temple University. “We traveled nearly 3,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean and explored a part of the world that has remained entirely hidden from view until now.” More information HERE.

Opening of Artist-at-Sea exhibit at Sail Newport, a collaboration with 11th Hour Racing

October 22nd, 2017

Schmidt Ocean Institute Artist At Sea exhibition at Sail Newport, presented with 11th Hour Racing. – To be accompanied with the Photo-by line: Cory Silken / 11th Hour Racing.

Sail Newport hosted the first east coast installation of Schmidt Ocean Institute’s traveling Artist-at-Sea exhibit, featuring work completed on research vessel Falkor. The traveling exhibit honors five years of cutting-edge research and contributions to the oceanographic community. For the first time, the unique traveling art exhibit made its way to the east coast of the United States, showcasing recent ocean science discoveries that shed new light on our oceans. The Artist-at-Sea program selects artists internationally with unique backgrounds to travel with ocean scientists on the vessel to create art that highlights the science and data collected at sea. The exhibit includes paintings, photography, fiber, and film inspired by the latest research exploring hydrothermal vents, coral reefs, and mapping of the ocean floor.

Falkor and Okeanos Public Tours in Honolulu

October, 2017

As part of the celebration for five years of research on board R/V Falkor, public ship tours were given on both NOAA Okeanos and Falkor at the Port of Honolulu. Hundreds of visitors were given a behind-the-scenes look at how the ship’s operated and insight into making science happen at sea. Other activities at the port included hands-on exhibits and presentations by researchers, as well as speeches by experts, including Co-Founder Wendy Schmidt.

Schmidt Ocean Institute Impact Award presented to Dr. Christopher Zappa

October 3rd, 2017

Dr. Christopher Zappa accepts the Schmidt Ocean Institute Impact Award at the Five Year Anniversary celebration of R/V Falkor held in Honolulu, Hawaii, on October 3, 2017.

On October 3rd, 2017, Schmidt Ocean Institute presented the first Impact Award to Dr. Christopher Zappa at the celebration of five years of research on board Falkor. The Schmidt Ocean Institute Impact Award recognizes investigators who have sailed on research vessel Falkor and taken great risks to align their research with our mission, to transform ocean sciences with disruptive innovation and defy the conventions of what observations, data, and knowledge are attainable to scientists at sea. More information here.

SOI featured in MTR's Top 100 Innovators

August 18, 2017

Schmidt Ocean Institute is featured in the 2017 Marine Technology Reporter 100, an annual showcase of innovators in the maritime industry.

Marine Technology Reporter Magazine 100 2017

Expedition collaborating with NASA concludes

March 6, 2017

The Sea to Space Particle Investigation used multiple new instruments during a 25 day expedition across the Pacific exploring a wide variety of oceanic ecosystems. The focus of chief scientist Dr. Ivona Cetinic´, USRA/NASA, and her multidisciplinary team of oceanographers, engineers, biologists, and computer scientists was to explore ocean particles, and more specifically the tiny phytoplankton that make up the base of our food web. The team will use the collected information to ground-truth satellite observation of ocean color (influenced by phytoplankton), in order to better understand the processes each planktonic community carries out with regards to the carbon and nitrogen cycles.

A satellite image shows Falkor’s track and the colors in ocean water. Colors indicate the amount of chlorophyll, where red is the highest and blue the lowest.NASA/ Norman Kuring

Mapping Reveals Evolution of Underwater Landscapes in the Johnston Atoll

January, 2017

Over 11,000 square kilometers of the ocean floor were mapped in high-resolution for the first time. Using multibeam sonar on RV Falkor, a team generated detailed maps of portions around the remote Johnston Atoll Unit (JAU) of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM).

Artist-At-Sea Exhibit Opens in Honolulu, Hawaii

January, 2017

The first exhibit featuring a collection of work from the Artist-At-Sea program opens in Honolulu, Hawaii. The showcase of painting, photography, music and film is work from internationally recognized artists who have spent time aboard the research vessel Falkor. The exhibit travels through 2017, including shows at: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute; America’s Cup Bermuda; Newport, Rhode Island; and the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Founder and Vice President Wendy Schmidt addresses the crowd at the Artist-At-Sea exhibit opening in Honolulu, Hawaii.SOI/Rian Devos

ROV SuBastian Searches for Life in Hydrothermal Mariana

December, 2016

Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) SuBastian has a very successful first scientific cruise during the “Searching for Life in Hydrothermal Mariana” expedition, gathering samples and data around the Mariana Back-arc. The study also confirmed that the Back-Arc ecosystems are distinct and different from the nearby Volcanic Arc hydrothermal ecosystems, supporting the idea that geological and chemical environment play a key role in selecting animal community composition at hydrothermal vents.

ROV SuBastian is loaded onto the aft deck of R/V Falkor after a successful recovery.

First Instance of UAV carrying scientific instruments flown from a ship without the help of a catapult or launching system

October, 2016

During the Study Of The Sea-Surface Microlayer and Air-Sea Boundary (2016) expedition, the HQ-60B model Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) completed its first science mission, taking instruments away from Falkor to undisturbed waters and bringing them back safely. This was the first time UAVs carrying scientific instruments were launched from a ship without the help of a catapult or launching system.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles carrying scientific instruments took off from a ship for the first time, without the help of any catapult or launching system. It was also the first time the HQ-60B model completed a science mission. The aircrafts completed 15 flights amounting to more than 27 hours of flight.SOI/ Mónika Naranjo González

ROV SuBastian Completes Sea Trials

July, 2016

Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) SuBastian completes a month of rigorous tests in the open ocean off the island of Guam in the western Pacific. Schmidt Ocean Institute worked through the summer, testing and integrating the new ROV with research vessel Falkor.

falkor-subastian-seatrials-20160720-5173

ROV SuBastian Tank Testing at MBARI

April, 2016

Schmidt Ocean Institute’s 4,500m Remotely Operated Vehicle SuBastian undergoes Tank Testing at MBARI

ROV SuBastian tank testing in MBARI

Virtual Reality Technology Reveals Underwater Vents in New Ways

March, 2016

Scientists aboard R/V Falkor during the Virtual Vents expedition develop the first 3D model of an entire hydrothermal vent field for Virtual Reality, covering the largest area of seafloor ever imaged in such a manner.

In Falkor’s Dry Lab, Researchers try out the Virtual Reality simulation of the hydrothermal vents thousands of meters below by wearing googles to immerse themselves in the experience.

Exploring New Land Using High-Resolution 3D Mapping

May, 2016

The crew of Falkor teamed up with NASA and Columbia’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory to create an integrated view of the three dimensional character of the new island – from the seafloor to its approximately 130 meters tall summit above sea-level at a spectacular meter-scale resolution.

SOI discovery ``Engineers Ridge`` officially named

January, 2016

Named after the unsung heroes of science at sea who keep ships running, the underwater feature was discovered during an SOI science expedition in the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument in November 2014. R/V Falkor technicians mapped and measured Engineers Ridge at 4.5 kilometers x 3 km (99 miles x 1.86 miles) and a maximum depth of 4,100 meters.

High resolution multibeam map of the newly named Engineer’s Ridge.Schmidt Ocean Institute

Artist-At-Sea program launched

December, 2015

During a transit from Guam to Honolulu, Leslie Reed is the first Artist-at-Sea participant to journey on R/V Falkor, making photographic imagery that is influenced by the content and pH of the seawater where the exposure was made.

Leslie Reed

Several Hydrothermal Vent Sites Discovered

December, 2015

The Hydrothermal Hunt at Mariana expedition onboard R/V Falkor more than doubled the number of known hydrothermal vent sites in the Mariana Back-arc region. Another highlight was the discovery of an extremely rare, recently-erupted underwater lava field that was likely only a few months old.

Map showing all the CTD casts and tows, and AUV Sentry dives accomplished during the 4-week expedition.SOI / Susan G. Merle

SOI Selected As Top Innovator

July/ August, 2015

Schmidt Ocean Institute is selected as the Editor’s Choice top Five Stand-Outs in the Marine Technology Reporter’s annual Top 100 innovators in the maritime industry.

marine-tech-image

SOI Holds Their Second Research Planning Workshop

August, 2015

Schmidt Ocean Institute holds its second Research Planning Workshop “Transforming Seagoing Science with Robotic Platforms, Innovative Software Engineering, and Data Analytics”.

Falkor’s First Seismic Profiling Cruise

June, 2015

Falkor conducts her first seismic profiling cruise in Indonesia, acquiring 17,597 square kilometers of high-resolution maps of the Mentawai Gap off the west coast of Sumatra. These maps allow scientists to better model potential tsunami impacts produced by an expected underwater earthquake in this region.

Summary video:

In the News

The Jakarta Post

Padang Ekspres Digital Media

ROV Dives at Scott Reef

May, 2015

A cruise aboard Falkor collects high resolution data on the physical and biological dynamics of Scott Reef in the Timor Sea using Falkor’s 300 meters depth remotely operated vehicle. All 16 of the dives totaling 77 hours are broadcast live from the ship to Schmidt Ocean Institute’s YouTube channel.

Highlights video:

In the News

Business Scoop

Development of New Robot Tracking Tool

April, 2015

A new visualization tool for tracking multiple vehicles is developed aboard Falkor by the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR) so anyone can view robotic deployments in real time from a smartphone. Collected images using the robots are uploaded to a citizen science photo tagging project, where over 22,569 reef images are tagged by the public.

Coordinated Robotics Cruise

April, 2015

Eight underwater and surface robotic vehicles are deployed simultaneously off of Falkor as part of the first coordinated robotics in the Timor Sea of the northwest corner of Australia. This cruise allows engineers from the Australian School of Field Robotics to build towards leaving groups of robotic vehicles unattended to accomplish tasks such as seafloor mapping.

seafloor

In the News

Popular Mechanics

Machine Design

First Ever ROV Survey of Perth Canyon

March, 2015

Schmidt Ocean Institute hosts aboard Falkor the first remotely operated vehicle survey of Perth Canyon off Perth, Australia to conduct baseline studies of deep corals. New coral species are discovered and many organisms are observed in Western Australian waters for the first time. 

In the News

NBC News

Discovery News

Live Science

Installation of First High-Performance Computer on a Research Vessel

January, 2015

Schmidt Ocean Institute installs the first high-performance cloud computing system on an oceanographic research vessel that will enable data storage and processing capabilities not previously available to scientists at sea.

high-performance-computing

Discovery of World’s Deepest Fish

November, 2014

Scientists on Falkor discover the world’s deepest known fish, among several other new species in the Mariana Trench, using Schmidt Ocean Institute’s full ocean depth free-falling landers.

Video of the new fish:

In the News

BBC News

Las Angeles Times

Washington Post

First Research Planning Workshop

August, 2014

Schmidt Ocean Institute’s first Research Planning Workshop Critical Opportunities for Technologically Advanced Shipboard Oceanography in the Next 3-5 Years” is held in Hawaii.

Falkor’s Maps One of the World's Largest Marine Protected Areas

March-June, 2014

Falkor maps 127,000 square kilometers of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, about 35% of one of the world’s largest marine protected areas. These bathymetric maps are later used for remotely operated vehicle dives where several new fish and invertebrate species are found.

First Student Cruise

February-June, 2014

A student cruise program is launched with Schmidt Ocean Institute hosting three student-led cruises in collaboration with the University of Hawaii aboard the Falkor

student

In the News

Hawaii News Now Article

University of Hawaii Article

First Research Symposium

November 1-2, 2013

Schmidt Ocean Institute holds its first Research Symposium in Honolulu, Hawaii.

research-symposium

Falkor’s First Visit to San Francisco

July 28, 2013

Falkor arrives in the Port of San Francisco, calling on the interactive learning laboratory museum Exploratorium.

san-francisco

HROV Nereus is Used on Falkor

June, 2013

For the first time, hybrid remotely operated vehicle Nereus from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, is deployed in support of an oceanographic research project – exploring hydrothermal vent fields at the Mid-Cayman Rise. All dive videos are live streamed and recorded in perpetuity on YouTube.

In the News

Jet Propulsion Laboratory Article

First Maps of Campeche Escarpment

March, 2013

For the first time, over 20,000 square kilometers of the largest geological feature in the Gulf of Mexico, Campeche Escarpment, are mapped with Falkor.

map

First Year of Scientific Operations

2013

Schmidt Ocean Institute’s first full year of committed scientific operations, Falkor transits over 11,000 nautical miles throughout the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean.

Shipwreck Discovery

July 11, 2012

The crew on Falkor discovers the S.S. Terra Nova, an acclaimed polar exploration ship that sank off the southern coast of Greenland in September 1943.

Underwater video footage of the discovery:

In the News

ABC News

BBC News

Science Verification Cruises

April-December, 2012

Extensive sea trials and science verification cruises conducted on Falkor to test and calibrate embedded systems and scientific equipment.  Trials and cruises took place across the Atlantic Ocean from Germany to Norway, across the Atlantic Ocean, down the east coast of the United States and into the Gulf of Mexico.

Falkor at Sea

Falkor is Named

March 6, 2012

Falkor officially receives her new name in a re-naming ceremony at the Peters Schiffbau Shipyard in Wewelsfleth, Germany.

Remarks on renaming by Eric Schmidt:

Remarks on renaming by Wendy Schmidt:

Lone Ranger

2010 – 2012

Schmidt Ocean Institute operates the ocean-going vessel Lone Ranger in support of oceanographic research in the Atlantic Ocean and in the waters of Bermuda and Bahamas. 

Lone Ranger at the dock in Freeport, Bahamas on July 20, 2011.
Lone Ranger at the dock in Freeport, Bahamas on July 20, 2011.Victor Zykov

Falkor Refit

2009 – 2012

Schmidt Ocean Institute purchases a German fisheries protection vessel, and undergoes an extensive refit to convert the ship to a state-of-the-art oceanographic research vessel, now known as Falkor.

german-fisheries-vessel

In the News

World Maritime News Article

Nature Article

SOI Begins

2009

Founders Eric and Wendy Schmidt establish Schmidt Ocean Institute as a 501 (c)(3) private non-profit operating foundation.

eric-wendy-schmidt-boat-naming

In the News

UK Daily Mail Article

NY Times Article