A British institution has launched an initiative to collect ocean data and make it publicly available.
The database can be used to link human activity such as shipping density and industrial fishing with bioviveristy data and other information. To be known as Octopus, the database will be launched by the Nekton Oxford Ocean Institute led by Oliver Steeds along with the University of Oxford, with funding from the UK’s Oxford Martin School.
Speaking at the Nor-Shipping led Opening Oceans Conference in Copenhagen last week Steeds said that there was very little publicly available information about the oceans and what was known has been collated in a rage of different places and in different formats.
Steeds, and the Nekton Ocean Research Institute, has been instrumental in raising public awareness about the need to study the ocean depths and to draw in business to support this endeavour.
He said Octopus, which stands for the The Ocean Tool for Public Understanding and Science will be launched at the Ocean Risk Summit in Bermuda to help launch a new era of collaborative marine research.
Steeds explained that this new research tool dynamically harvests and harmonises open-access marine data including oceanographic observations, biodiversity and human stressors on the ocean. Its objective is to support scientific study, monitoring, policy and decision-making for the improved management of the ocean.
OCTOPUS currently gathers 98 billion data points from 25 open sources to create 30 different thematic layers related to biodiversity, administration, oceanography, human impact and ecosystem services.
AN access portal, known as the Ocean Data Explorer will enable the database to to visualized by users. The data will include ocean biodiversity, oceanography (including bathymetry, water information, ship traffic density, fishing activity, marine mining licenses, exclusive economic zones, marine protected areas, regional fisheries bodies and other information.
Sources currently include the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS), Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), European Union (EU), International Seabed Authority, Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Additional sources will be added as the platform develops.