Exploration Week: The Next, Next Frontier

Did you know? Approximately 95 percent of the world’s ocean remains unexplored.

Published November 16, 2015

The moon might seem like a mysterious, distant speck in the night sky, but, truth is, we know more about its backside than we do about four-fifths of our own planet.

squid
Image via NOAA's Okeanos Explorer.

In fact, we have maps detailing every mountain and crater on the moon’s surface, but only 5 percent of our ocean has been mapped in high resolution.

The ocean is literally responsible for our continued existence on this planet. So, why do we know so little about it? 

Reaching the depths of our ocean is a costly, high-risk venture. Although technology has come a long way in the last century, a lack of international collaboration and support has slowed the process of discovery. To give you some perspective: the deepest known point in the ocean, the Mariana Trench, has only been reached on two occasions since 1960. 

challenger deep
Image via Live Science.

Why is ocean exploration so important? 

Exploration is key to identifying potential new pharmaceuticals, and untapped food and energy sources. Data from the deep sea can also help environmental scientists better understand the true effects climate change is having on our planet and help to better predict future weather events. 

Most importantly, knowing is caring. It is estimated that between 700,000 and one million species inhabit our blue planet and thousands of species continue to be identified every year! 

octopus
Image via NOAA's Okeanos Explorer.

Our ocean is vast, but it is a finite resource. The more we understand about this life-sustaining resource, the better chance we have of ensuring it endures for future generations.

This week, representatives from the science, conservation and exploration communities are convening here in Baltimore for the 2015 Ocean Exploration Forum. The goal of this two-day forum is to share emerging technologies and attitudes and to identify key characteristics of a national program of ocean exploration for 2020 and beyond. 

To learn more about the forum and watch our livestream, click here

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