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Mary Mazzoni headshot

Michael Bloomberg and OceanX Announce $185 Million Ocean Exploration Partnership

By Mary Mazzoni

Founded by filmmaker James Cameron and Dalio Philanthropies President Ray Dalio, OceanX supports scientists as they explore the ocean and share their findings with the world. Uniting leading media, science and philanthropy partners, OceanX seeks to educate people about the oceans as a means of engaging them in conservation efforts.

With its own research vessel and the world’s most advanced underwater cameras—capable of shooting high-quality video more than 3,200 feet below the surface—this unique media project shows people the ocean like they’ve never seen it before. It helped capture the first footage of the Giant Squid in Japan and traveled with the BBC to depths below the Antarctic Ocean never before reached by humans, among a number of other milestones.

Last week, OceanX and its team of filmmakers, scientists and media pros got a boost in the form of a new partnership with billionaire philanthropist Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg Philanthropies, the group encompassing all of Bloomberg’s charitable activities, distributed $702 million in social investments last year, and the former New York City mayor is already one of the world's leading supporters of ocean protection and conservation.

The new partnership will support the OceanX platform and its mission to "increase the world’s collective understanding of our oceans and the vital need for conservation," Bloomberg and OceanX said in a video message at the fifth annual Our Ocean Conference in Indonesia. The effort will be seeded by a combined commitment of more than $185 million over four years.

“More than 3 billion people depend on the oceans for food and their livelihoods. That means threats to marine ecosystems—like climate change and overfishing—also threaten lives around the world,” Bloomberg, who also serves as a U.N. Special Envoy for Climate Action, said in a statement. “We’re teaming up with OceanX to ensure that ocean conservation receives the attention it deserves.”

The partnership's inaugural project is an expedition to the first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean. Designated in 2016 by President Barack Obama, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is home to a vast undersea mountain range formed millions of years ago by extinct volcanoes. Scientists will visit Northeast Canyons on OceanX’s marine research and exploration vessel, the Alucia, to “demonstrate [the monument’s] importance” and “illustrate the need for marine conservation across the globe,” according to Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Working complementarily, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ partners will leverage OceanX’s powerful imagery, video and media storytelling to advocate for marine conservation. The two groups also pledged to invest—"both independently and together"—in projects related to ocean exploration and scientific discovery, awareness and education, issue advocacy, policy development, and conservation.

Bloomberg Philanthropies has invested $69 million in ocean protection efforts since 2011. This latest commitment marks an extension of the group’s Vibrant Oceans Initiative—established in 2014 with a mission to reform local and industrial fishing practices and protect critical marine areas in top fishing nations.

In partnership with groups like Oceana and Rare, Vibrant Oceans launched programs to protect more than 1 million square miles of marine habitat in Brazil, Chile and the Philippines, increasing coastal fish populations by 390 percent at key sites. The initiative will extend similar programs to at least seven more countries—including French Polynesia, Indonesia, Peru, Tanzania and the U.S.—over the next four years, according to Bloomberg Philanthropies.

This new collaboration will unite Bloomberg's efforts with those of Ray Dalio, the billionaire businessman and philanthropist behind both OceanX and Bridgewater Associates, one of the world's largest hedge funds.

Such an alignment of powerful interests couldn't come at a better time. More than 30 percent of the world's fisheries "have been pushed beyond their biological limits," according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Meanwhile, the ocean has absorbed roughly 30 percent of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions and more than 90 percent of the heat associated with global temperature rise, according to the Ocean Conservancy, further stressing marine ecosystems.

“The health of our oceans is intertwined with our continued health and wellbeing on land, and increased threats to the ocean require that we focus our attention on addressing these issues,” Dalio said in a statement. “We need to drive toward a global understanding of and passion for the oceans, which we believe will ultimately lead to their protection. We see the pairing of our exploration expertise and resources with Michael’s conservation and advocacy work as part of the necessary collective efforts to address the issues facing our oceans.”

To learn more about this new partnership and check out some of OceanX's awe-inspiring underwater footage, watch the video below:


Image credit: Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash

Mary Mazzoni headshot

Mary has reported on sustainability and social impact for over a decade and now serves as executive editor of TriplePundit. She is also the general manager of TriplePundit's Brand Studio, which has worked with dozens of organizations on sustainability storytelling, and VP of content for TriplePundit's parent company 3BL. 

Read more stories by Mary Mazzoni