- Bridgewater hedge-fund founder Ray Dalio is a proponent of ocean exploration and has long been involved in ocean research.
- Dalio has announced a new initiative, OceanX, which aims to explore the world’s oceans.
- About 95% of the world’s oceans are still unexplored, so Dalio told Business Insider that learning about that unknown is ” like discovering the planet anew.”
Ray Dalio wants to know what’s in the depths of the world’s oceans.
Dalio is the founder of Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund, and he has been involved in ocean exploration for years. Using a crewed submersible (a deep-diving underwater vehicle) launched from his ship, the Alucia, researchers captured the first footage of a giant squid in its natural habitat in the wild six years ago.
The team that filmed “Blue Planet II,” the remarkable nature documentary, conducted a number of their shoots from the Alucia. These dives took filmmakers deeper under Antarctica than any person has ever gone and resulted in the discovery of new species. Just recently, a researcher from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution used an underwater drone owned by Dalio to discover a shipwreck off the coast of Colombia that may hold up to $17 billion in treasure.
On Monday evening, Dalio and his son, Mark, announced a new initiative, OceanX, that aims to take ocean exploration to the next level.
OceanX is meant to be a mission like that of Jacques Cousteau, the French undersea explorer, inventor, diver, and filmmaker who introduced much of the public to the wonders of the ocean, Dalio told Business Insider. The effort will combine scientific exploration of the ocean with the production of media designed to show people how exciting the underwater world is.
More exciting than space
Dalio has previously supported scientific research on the Alucia and contributed to the production of ocean-related media like “Blue Planet II” from the ship. Mark Dalio’s OceanX Media (formerly known as Alucia Productions) coproduced the BBC Earth film “Oceans: Our Blue Planet.”
As a new initiative, OceanX is meant to unify researchers, explorers, philanthropists, and media companies and expand these ocean research, exploration and media-creation efforts.
In 2019, the organization plans to debut a new ship, the M/V Alucia2, which will be roughly 84 meters (276 feet) long and have wet and dry labs for scientific research on board. The vessel will include a hangar for three submersibles that can carry crew members 1,000 meters underwater, along with a deployment bay for underwater drones, a helicopter deck and hangar, and a media center.
Right now, OceanX is seeking ideas for missions that would benefit from being on board the new ship. OceanX already has a long list of partners to help facilitate research, conduct scientific expeditions, and create media, including BBC Studies, James Cameron, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the National Geographic Society, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and many more.
As Dalio explains it, exploring the underwater world on our planet is more exciting than exploring space.
“You go out to outer space and you get an interesting picture of what the Earth in outer space looks like, and then you go to Mars and you get a lot of rocks. I’m not saying it’s not interesting, but how many times can you look at the Earth from up there and say, ‘Wow,’ and how many times can you go to Mars? I think [the ocean is] far more exciting and I think it’s far more intimate in terms of affecting our lives,” he said.
Discovering the unknown
Roughly 95% of the world’s oceans are unexplored, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. So there’s incredible potential for discovery underwater.
“More than 50% of our air comes from the ocean, it affects our weather, it affects us in so many different ways, and it’s right there. Just go down. It’s cheaper to get to than going to Mars and so it’s more exciting and more important,” Dalio said.
He explained that OceanX plans to focus on a vast area of the ocean known as “the twilight zone,” which is considered to be particularly unexplored.
“That’s the area where you start to lose light, below 350 to 500 feet, down to a couple of thousand meters,” Dalio said. “That’s where we’re particularly interested in exploring. We’re going to do that all over the world, but we will initially start in the Indian Ocean.”
Oceans cover more than 70% of the planet’s surface and are ultimately the support systems that allow life to exist here. Yet we know little about them in comparison to what we know about environments on land. That’s why, for Dalio, the most exciting thing about this new exploration effort is the unknown.
“Above the ocean’s surface, there are all of these worlds. There are different species, there are different terrains, there are mountains and plains and all of those things,” he said. “Beneath the ocean, it is twice as large in terms of the worlds, the total area below, and it’s totally undiscovered. So to me it’s like discovering the planet anew.”
Through ocean exploration, there’s potential to discover valuable minerals and chemicals, new species that could be sources of novel types of medications, and more. Plus, because ocean systems provide our oxygen and much of the food we rely on, it’s important to learn about the underwater world so that we know how to protect these essential resources.
“Imagine continents that have never been discovered, species that have never been discovered, ecosystems that have never been discovered and they’re right there. It’s the not knowing that excites us,” Dalio said.