WHOI collaborates on a “Bigger Than Us” Mission for the Ocean at TED2019


WHOI Deep Submergence Laboratory director Andy Bowen and BBC Blue Planet II producer Orla Doherty talk at the Mission:Ocean exhibit at the TED 2019 annual conference in Vancouver. Photo by Marla Aufmuth © TED

For a second year in a row, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) made waves at the annual TED conference in Vancouver—this time, with an immersive exhibit called Mission:Ocean.

This visually stunning installation represented a unique collaboration between WHOI, OceanX, and the BBC, supported and designed by the Avatar Alliance Foundation. These organizations share a dedication to our ocean world for its stunning beauty and the essential role it plays in sustaining the health of our planet and the wellbeing of people everywhere. Together, they are working to ignite a new conversation about our planet’s largest shared resource.

Sam Harp, WHOI’s Vice President of Advancement and Chief Marketing Officer said of the collaboration that came together at TED2019 for the first time: “It brings together world leaders in ocean discovery, innovation, exploration, and storytelling. This is unprecedented, and it’s exactly the right mix needed to raise awareness and motivate action to sustain the ocean ecosystems we enjoy and depend upon for life and livelihood.”

The focal point of the Mission:Ocean exhibit was a larger-than-life video installation spread across five, 13-foot-tall screens. Complementing the video were a number of additional displays giving an insider’s view of ocean research and discovery. Among them was SharkCam, WHOI’s autonomous underwater robotic tracking and imaging system that gives scientists a shark’s eye view of ocean life, and a piece of an actual hydrothermal vent, collected 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) down on the ocean floor by WHOI scientists aboard the iconic human-occupied vehicle Alvin.

The Mission:Ocean exhibit built on WHOI’s appearance last year on the TED stage. Speaking at the TED2018, WHOI biologist Heidi Sosik told a global audience about WHOI’s Ocean Twilight Zone project, a mission to explore and understand a critical but little-known region of the ocean. WHOI was among seven visionary entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations to be recognized by The Audacious Project, which surfaces and funds critical ideas that have the potential to impact millions of lives. The $35 million award was the largest philanthropic gift in WHOI’s history.

WHOI Board Chair David Scully said that the organisation hoped that “this collaboration will help focus world attention on the ocean and the amazing role it plays in sustaining life on our planet.”

For more info, please visit www.whoi.edu and www.ted.com.

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