While Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk or Richard Branson fight for the conquest of space, Ray Dalio and his son Mark do not look to the sky. For both, the depths of the ocean hide the same enigmas (if not more) than the universe.
That is why back in 2016, when the founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, saw the continuous collapse suffered by oil prices, he did not miss the opportunity to finish the dream shared with one of his offspring.
In the midst of the black gold debacle, this billionaire, whose fortune currently stands at $ 20.3 billion, according to Forbes, managed to get hold of an old oil driller.
A ship whose metamorphosis process, in charge of Damen Shiprepair, has given rise to the OceanXplorer , a colossus whose size has nothing to envy to a football field and which houses both the most advanced scientific research and the most cutting-edge technology as well as well as the new audiovisual narrative related to the immensity of the sea.
After all, the patriarch of the Dalios considers that the oceans are “the greatest asset on the planet”, since they cover 72% of its surface and comprise 99% of its habitable space.
“I have the mission to show that the exploration of the oceans is even more important and exciting than the conquest of space, so that our oceans receive more support and are managed more sensibly”, recognizes Ray himself in his book “Principles: Life and Work “. Mark, the youngest of her four children, has become the linchpin of this commendable feat.
“I founded OceanX because of the passion that my father and I share for the oceans”
An adventure that solidified its foundations in 2018, when Ray and Mark together with a global coalition of media, scientists and philanthropic organizations, including James Cameron (director of films such as Titanic or Avatar) conceived OceanX , an exploration initiative with the aim of educating, inspiring and connecting the world with the best kept secrets of the ocean.
“I founded OceanX because of the passion that my father and I share for the oceans, the curiosity to explore them and the desire to share their wonders with the world. Each trip we have made since we began this journey has allowed us to meet new creatures and new phenomena but it also reminds us of the constantly changing nature of the oceans, how little we know about these precious environments and how much we still have to discover “, Mark Dalio explains to this newspaper.
Mark was an associate producer for National Geographic in 2013 when scientists and filmmakers from Discovery Channel and Japan’s NHK captured the first image of a giant squid . The 3-meter-long creature, peered from more than 600 meters deep, captivated the world.
At the time, the film crew was aboard the M / V Alucia, a marine exploration and research vessel owned by his father. Ray bought the vessel two years earlier, after it and a sphere-shaped underwater robot played a key role in finding the remains of Air France Flight 447 , which in 2009 disappeared over the Atlantic with 228 passengers on board.
After this discovery, Mark convinced his father to fund Alucia Productions as a multimedia initiative that would allow him to tell all the stories aboard the 56-meter-long boat in order to chronicle all his investigations. Shortly after its birth, it did not take long to collaborate with the BBC in 2017 with a dozen shootings across nine different locations for four of the seven episodes of the famous documentary series Blue Planet II .
List of unprecedented finds
Yet the family’s oceanic ambitions, through Dalio Philanthropies , had only just begun. Alucia and Alucia Productions served as a precursor to further strengthen the already close relationship between the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Vincent Pieribone, a neuroscientist at the Yale School of Medicine, and Cameron.
Not long after the birth of OceanX culminated, of which Ray and Mark are co-founders, the latter also creative director, and the transformation of the Alucia II, later renamed OceanXplorer.
“We are privileged to provide scientists and researchers with the tools and capabilities necessary to explore the oceans, and I cannot think of a greater honor than being able to support their groundbreaking discoveries and share them with the world,” Mark emphasizes.
And is that the list of unprecedented finds go beyond the giant squid. OceanX has been the first to survey the deep sea of Antarctica, discover 180 of biofluorescent fish , tag a deep-sea shark from a submarine or discover the Galapagos cat shark, among five other species. All this having mapped around 233 square kilometers of ocean floor .
Beyond ongoing scientific breakthroughs and discoveries, National Geographic is currently working on a new docuseries, under the tentative name OceanXplorers , co-produced by Cameron, the BBC and OceanX Media for National Geographic. Ray and Mark are executive producers.
OceanX also works hand in hand with its many partners, including, among others, Bloomberg Philanthropies or The Paradise International Foundation in China to create a global community committed to understanding, enjoying and protecting the oceans. “We believe that this is what will make the public better understand the oceans and that the next generation will become the best manager of one of the greatest resources on our planet,” confesses Mark Dalio.