Global ocean exploration nonprofit OceanX is embarking on a first-of-its-kind mission to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in partnership with The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), G42 and Bayanat.
Alongside these partner organizations, OceanX will develop a comprehensive map of the UAE’s ocean environment for the first time in history and conduct fishery assessments to create environmentally sustainable fishing tools and methods. The mission will bookend the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNCCC), with the first half taking place from November 14 – 23 and the second half from December 15 – 24 in UAE waters.
The waters of the UAE’s east coast have not been explored, and yet they boast unique characteristics like high salinity and shallow depths, making the sea one of the hottest on the planet. OceanX will supply the unique capabilities of OceanXplorer, the worlds’s most advanced research vessel, including manned submersibles, ROVs, and acoustic mapping sonars to create a baseline of the UAE’s aquatic ecosystems such as seafloor geology, nutrient levels, and megafauna population.
This baseline will reveal the most complete picture of the UAE’s deep-sea environment ever. By exploring extreme environments like this, OceanX advances scientific knowledge about how life can adapt to severe climates and the resulting implications for the future of our ocean. In turn, this research will facilitate informed decision-making for the sustainable management and conservation of our ocean, offering promising prospects for scientific understanding and practical applications.
OceanX also will help revolutionize traditional approaches to fishery assessments by testing advanced methods developed with EAD and G42, leveraging genomic technology like eDNA sampling and G42’s artificial intelligence (AI) tool, giQ. G42’s advanced AI will enable real-time ocean data analysis, species identification, and habitat mapping, while making valuable inferences about ecosystem health and biodiversity to support future research and conservation efforts.
The goal is to create tools that are both cost-effective and reduce the environmental impact of fishery assessments. Combining eDNA and AI analysis can create a new, minimally invasive, high-resolution data collection method to support conservation planning, accurate stock assessment, and an understanding of the changing conditions that affect marine species. This approach will enable countries to rapidly analyze vast datasets, even if they lack the specialized personnel expertise typically required to do so.
Mr. Ahmed Al Hashmi, executive director of Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD said that “We are always on the lookout for international partners to conduct joint research with, using the most advanced and innovative technologies. Our partnership with OceanX and this mission in the UAE’s waters is a prime example of this. With their disruptive technology onboard OceanXplorer and EAD’s experienced team of scientists, this partnership will be able to explore and discover our marine environments, to facilitate the development of restoration programs for our ecosystems, fisheries and vast diversity of marine species.”
Leveraging its extensive knowledge of the region, EAD will share invaluable insights and data found using the state-of-the-art research vessel Jaywun, the country’s first dedicated research ship and the most advanced in the region crafted for the unique conditions of the Arabian Gulf. This partnership between EAD and OceanX will allow capacity building for local researchers through Abu Dhabi Environmental Research Network (ADERN) which provides young, local, science-passionate researchers with a chance to conduct research onboard Jaywun and OceanXplorer.
Additionally, this partnership extends beyond research, as OceanX, renowned for its media expertise, joins forces with EAD in developing compelling media materials to amplify the impact of their collective conservation efforts.
Dr. Fahed Al Marzooqi, deputy group chief operating officer, M42 commented that “TM42 is proud to contribute to the advancement of marine research and environmental conservation through this partnership. This initiative combines EAD’s cutting-edge marine research vessel technologies with the expertise of G42 Healthcare, an M42 pillar, in genome sequencing, DNA analysis, chemistry research, imaging, and AI to protect biodiversity, promote ecosystem resilience, and address the pressing issue of climate change.”
Together, the knowledge gained and methods developed through this OceanX mission will form a solid foundation for UAE ocean management decision making and open doors to more accessible ocean health analysis.