Founded in 2017 by Dr. Katy Croff Bell, the Open Ocean Initiative launched at the MIT Media Lab with a mission to design and deploy new ways to understand the ocean and connect people to it. Working at the intersection of science, technology, art, and society, we have embarked on numerous events, projects and collaborations across the Media Lab, MIT and beyond. Projects developing low-cost imaging systems, immersive data experiences, and AI-driven image analysis have focused on building a global—and equitable—community for deep-sea exploration.
Guided by our North Star Design Principles, we have been working toward our goal of creating efficient, equitable systems that can and should be developed in order to broaden access to the deep sea around the world. The History of Open Ocean is rich with major events, research projects, training and expeditions, and education and outreach events—activities with the strategic goal of breaking down barriers to deep-sea exploration.
In 2021, Open Ocean spun out of the Media Lab to a new 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, the Ocean Discovery League. ODL was founded was to create a new paradigm for ocean exploration by employing collaborative, innovative research methods across a spectrum of cutting-edge tools to make ocean discovery accessible to all communities around the world. ODL aims to develop and deploy new technologies, research methods, and social systems to transform what it means to explore and discover the ocean in the 21st century, enabling us to more fully understand our planet so that we may thrive today and into the future.