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The Future of Exploration: Accessing the Deep

As a deep ocean explorer, I've dedicated my life to discovering and understanding the remarkable ecosystems concealed in the depths of the ocean. The future of deep sea exploration is not only critical but also immensely exciting.


The deep ocean has always fascinated me. It's a world where the sun's rays do not penetrate and the pressure is crushing. Yet, despite these harsh conditions, life thrives in unexpected ways. I recently contributed an essay to the book The Future of Exploration, a collection of writings from over 35 lifelong explorers about the future of exploration. In the essay, I delve into the strategy of Ocean Discovery League (ODL), the organization I founded with the goal of democratizing deep ocean exploration. We believe that the more people who have access to the tools and knowledge needed for exploring the deep sea, the better equipped we will be to protect and preserve these fragile ecosystems.


"As I have grown throughout my career, I have become committed to opening up the field of deep ocean exploration to help others navigate it and to provide the support and tools necessary to make deep ocean exploration accessible to all. I have made a commitment to mentor other women through this process, providing advice and guidance wherever possible."

One of the critical aspects of our strategy is the development and distribution of lower-cost and easier to use exploration tools. Traditionally, deep sea exploration has been prohibitively expensive, limited to a select few who could secure funding for costly research expeditions. This exclusivity has hindered our understanding of the deep ocean, leaving vast areas unexplored and countless species undiscovered.


Lowering the cost of exploration tools is a game-changer. It means that more scientists, researchers, and explorers from around the world can participate in deep ocean expeditions. It means that small organizations and even individuals with a passion for the deep sea can make meaningful contributions to our understanding of this unique environment. Picture local researchers in countries with extensive coastlines conducting vital deep-sea surveys without relying on the support of large research institutions. This vision is within our reach, and ODL is leading the way.


"Our limited understanding of the deep sea stems from today’s inefficient, expensive, and inequitable approach to exploration. Our technologies are too slow—it would take more than ten thousand years to see the entire seafloor at our current rate of exploration. The robotic vehicles that exist today cost millions of dollars and require large ships at a rate of tens of thousands of dollars per day. Even if we were to add ten or a hundred times more vessels and vehicles to the global fleet, it would still not be enough to catch up with the pace at which humans are changing the environmental conditions of the deep sea before we even know what is there."

You can read more below in my essay in The Future of Exploration and I encourage you to purchase a copy, as all proceeds from the sale will go toward grants for future explorers. The book contains first-hand accounts of adventure and discovery from world-renowned public figures, including Jane Goodall, Sylvia Earle, Bob Ballard, Richard Branson, Yvon Chouinard, Paula Kahumbu, Nainoa Thompson, Sven Lindblad, and more.


Read Full Essay:


Katy Croff Bell Future of Explroation Essay
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