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. 

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.

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

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


First Year of Scientific Operations


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.


In the News

World Maritime News Article

Nature Article

SOI Begins


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


In the News

UK Daily Mail Article

NY Times Article