NEOM has announced extensive findings from a joint mission with the non-profit ocean exploration organization OceanX, following the most adventurous assessment of the northern Red Sea to date. The six-week expedition took place aboard the OceanXplorer, the advanced exploration and research vessel. The expedition generated scientific research into marine ecosystems, megafauna, brine pools and coral reef conservation and regeneration.
Commenting on the scientific discoveries, Nadhmi Al-Nasr, CEO of NEOM, said: “NEOM goes beyond just being a global destination for investment, technology, tourism or industrial and commercial sectors, by partnering with scientists and international scientific and academic institutions for research and exploration. The joint mission efforts have made significant achievements in the identification of previously unknown natural areas, as well as unprecedented global scientific discoveries.”
Shipwrecks and Ocean Pinnacle
Findings, captured over 960 hours of underwater research and mapping over 1,500km2 of the seabed in high-resolution 3D, have established a baseline measure of biodiversity and habitat vitality that will allow NEOM to pursue its goal of both conserving and improving the health of surrounding ecosystems.
After 42 days spent 3D mapping some 1,500km2 of seabed, the crew made some astounding discoveries. The discovery of an ocean pinnacle 635m high (as tall as any of the world’s biggest skyscrapers except the Burj Khalifa) fires the imagination. They also found three ancient shipwrecks, surveyed three unexplored islands and identified eight areas of outstanding natural beauty. In addition, satellite tags were used to better understand marine life. Meanwhile, 152 sightings of megafauna resulted in the known range of species extending by more than 20.
The 30-person crew of world-renowned scientists, oceanographers and researchers included four NEOM experts, five from the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA), five King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) experts, 11 King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) researchers and five National Geographic explorers.