Well, we started off with a dream. We know that the place where science meets art is where incredible things happen. The ocean is our inspiration, it’s swarming with potential for both beauty and knowledge. We want everyone to have access to the wonders of underwater life!
The World Ocean is as close as you can get to outer space without leaving Earth. Compared to land life, it’s an entirely different universe. Have you ever looked at a globe? Hopefully you have. You must then at least suspect that over 71% of the Earth isn’t earth at all – it’s water. That water is uncharted, mysterious and huge in its volume. Its inner workings are vastly complicated, but it holds up all life on this planet. Yes, even you! This huge, complex thing that we call the World Ocean doesn’t just sit there passively though, it’s very much alive.
We will show you the cream of the crop amongst the beautiful and weird creatures that inhabit it. These guys are real aliens in this parallel universe that exists right here on Earth. Their lives are hidden and covered in darkness. They’re called gelatinous zooplankton.
Do you think you know what kind of creatures live in the oceans? Are you imagining a fish now? Maybe you’re picturing a whale or, if you’re really creative, a monstrous squid. Forget all of that. You have no idea how mind-boggling and creative nature can be. Have a look at this guy:
Are those tentacles creeping out of its head? Is that just one creature? Yep! We think he puts all Hollywood special effects teams to shame. Most people wouldn't be able to tell whether the dude up there is harmless and friendly, or hostile in a charming sneaky sort of way. In nature, this thing floats around unnoticed just a few hundreds of miles off shore. That's why underwater life is so amazing. Some life-forms are so strange and baffling that even experienced marine biologists’ and divers’ jaws drop when they see something new. That was a figure of speech by the way. If a diver’s jaw dropped he’d be in trouble, what with all that breathing equipment and all.
We like to call this group of animals “gelata” – it’s a nice term seasoned with mystery and a bit less of a mouthful than “gelatinous zooplankton”. Gelata are fundamental to the health of our planet, they link other living creatures together. They’re also fun, since nobody has studied them extensively before. You can’t really study gelata in a lab or an aquarium since their bodies can fall apart from a single touch. Their bodies are basically made of jelly, after all.
So we decided to go out and study them in their own environment. We’ll use amazing diving equipment, some serious cameras and even a robot! Because robots are cool. Robots are also useful, since they can access places where people can’t go, they can carry several cameras instead of just one and they don’t need to do silly things like eat, sleep or get sea-sick. We’ll sail through the waves, dive in unknown locations and collect vast amounts of data that will give marine science an incredible and much-needed boost.
We’ll use multimedia broadcasting to put you (yes, you again!) at the midst of our journey. You’ll be able to learn how science works without putting away your smartphone. In fact, you'll be very much encouraged to use it! We’ll edit out all the boring bits too! Throughout our expedition, we’ll create reports, photos, videos and package all this content nicely to be put up online. We’ll even have Twitter and Instagram on board with us for all you cool kids.
All this will create a thrilling show. You’ll see us braving huge waves, you’ll see our work, our life and all the science behind it. We’ll show you the edges of exploration, unseen depths, mesmerizing creatures, storms, sharks and pirates (hopefully not). Using our amazing on-board equipment and skilful storytelling methods, we’ll serve mind-blowing information up in beautiful, bite-sized pieces. You’ll be able to access all of it and share it in just one click!
We’re not simply entertainers though. By the end of our journey, you’ll become your own expert oceanographer and marine biologist. You’ll learn something new every day, you’ll be able to solve scientific mysteries with us as they arise and help us make new discoveries about the world. You’ll be able to join the most creative and connected scientific expedition in the world with nothing but the magic of an internet connection!
That's Alex. To think that being a handsome dude is not even his best feature! He is a born dreamer and our favourite leader. Alex is a marine biologist, a world-renowned underwater photographer, a scientific advocate and the head of the divers' team at Moscow University's White Sea Biological Station. His photos have left viewers all over the world agape – just have a look at his awesome Flickr stream! He's also fiercely awesome in his exploits: he dives in icy cold waters, spends six months of the year on the edge of the Arctic Circle and gives talks to audiences that range from country presidents to pre-school children. He is also the type of guy who will talk about some obscure mollusc within minutes of meeting you. And you'll love it.
Alex's long-standing dream is to widen the horizons of human knowledge, to inspire young people and to show everyone how incredible our world is. From this dream, he composed Aquatilis Expedition, inspiring extraordinary individuals to join him and make it a reality.
That's the rest of us. We’re very modest and pretty much superheroes: divers, scientists, professional sailors, photographers, videographers and rescue personnel. We also have a cook. We’re ready (and slightly impatient) for this epic quest. Our eyes glimmer with excitement, our hearts are full of fire, our minds are filled with knowledge and our bodies are made of steel. We have passion and courage strong enough to encompass the whole world. Our souls are firmly anchored to the depths of the Ocean.
Here you can see some of our daily activities:
Each of us is a seasoned professional. We’ve been through thick and thin, we’ve won international awards, we swam with sharks and conquered polar caps. We’re a team of Swiss army knives – adaptable, quick and sharp. We can manage any task that the ocean decides to throw at us.
Also, our cook can cook. Which is a huge bonus.
Well done, you got us. We are, in fact, planning to go around the world in a yacht, as in sailing. There is a method in our madness though. Sailing is a natural and highly-adaptable form of travel. We really do love the ocean and want to harm it as little as possible during our journey of exploration. It's not any old yacht though. This 70-feet sturdy water-stallion was custom-built for lengthy expeditions. It's a sturdy vessel fit for crossing oceans, rounding capes, navigating open waters and supporting a lively team. And, truth be told, we're also a bunch of hopeless romantics inside these bodies of steel: there's nothing quite like a sail on the horizon.
This yacht will be our home and workplace for three years. It will shield us from storms and lull us to sleep while bouncing gently on the waves. It does, however, need quite a bit of work before it's fully ready for the awesomeness we have in store for it.
Our journey will cover over 30,000 nautical miles. Our travels will take us on a winding trail through three oceans, bypassing usual diving locations. We'll start off in Marmaris, Turkey, which is handy, since that's where our yacht is. After that, we'll purposefully ignore most prominent diving locations to head for a route less traveled:
Our expedition is split into ten stages. It includes long passages through oceans and extensive diving in all the regions we will cover.
During the mission’s first leg through the Mediterranean, we will show you some unexpected sights from this generally well-known area. This part of the journey will also allow us to make sure that everything is in order for our subsequent travels. After this, each stage will last 2 to 5 months, and will include rigorous diving, filming and on-board research.
After this important first part of the journey, we will cross the Atlantic Ocean with lengthy exploratory stops at the Azores, the Caribbean, Argentina and Brazil along the way. We will round Cape Horn, which is still considered one of the greatest sailing endeavours. We will then proceed along the coast of Chile, rounding up a multitude of unexplored diving locations, and stop briefly in the San Francisco Bay area. From there, our long journey through the Pacific Ocean will begin. We will sail by the Great Pacific Trash Island, studying the strange life-forms it contains and dive across a range of locations which have never been explored before.
We will be closely examining the regions of Oceania and Indonesia which are scarcely studied and are busting with biodiversity. We will call at a multitude of cities around the world during our journey and will organise various events throughout its duration. Keep an eye out - we’ll probably stop by a port near you!
Some true scientific giants have our backs. Our project is supported by leading marine biologists and gelata experts all over the world. Here are some of them:
Professor Emeritus. University of California, US
Andre C. Morandini
Associate Professor. University of São Paulo, Brazil
Mikhail V. Matz
Associate Professor. University of Texas, US
Assistant Professor, PhD. Brown University, US
Scientist, PhD. Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, US
Scientist, PhD. Institute of Marine Biology RAS, Russia
We’ve also proved many times that we can see beauty, show beauty and put on an awesome show while we’re at it:
Aquatilis is a three-year expedition dedicated to searching, photographing and filming gelatinous plankton and studying its life. Our venture is inspired by passion and love, yet focuses on solutions to tangible problems. Since we’re actually serious scientists (we promise), we can put all of this in tame scientific terms. Aquatilis will tackle three categories of project aims:
Fill the gaps in the body of knowledge about gelatinous plankton, one of the key links in the oceanic food chain. The creatures will be studied in their natural habitat.
Search and describe new species.
Gather and record planktonic life forms for DNA and RNA analysis.
Create a zoo-geographical database: film and photograph certain types of creatures with attachment to specific co-ordinates, water depth, temperatures, salinity and time of day.
Compile an extensive photo and video database about the world’s oceans which could be used for scientific and educational purposes.
Refine the methodology of scientific underwater studies, develop and test techniques for the study of bioluminescence and fluorescence.
Develop a methodology for mapping “trash islands” and giant accumulations of plankton via satellite.
Discover and test new diving locations in the world’s oceans.
Complete local research projects in partnership with laboratories and research institutes all over the world.
Acquaint millions of people around the world with mysterious and poorly-known species within the world ocean.
Popularise science through an adventure show: live science in action, real research made clear and accessible for everyone.
Compose the image of the contemporary researcher, one who uses the best available equipment and cutting-edge technologies, one who is ready for discoveries, for communication with the world and for work in adverse conditions
Raise people’s awareness of the problems which plague the world’s oceans.
Launch a new “Underwater Odyssey” which will continue the work of past explorers and place it on a whole new level;
Raise the bar within scientific illustration and exploration;
- Add adventure and emotion to this daily world of ours.
We have conducted all the necessary analysis and have identified that the full cost of our three-year expedition will be $4,000,000. This includes preparation, set-off and, most importantly, maintenance over the whole expedition period. If you imagine that amount in cash, it would take up several suitcases! Of course, this amount would be more manageable if we get sponsors and technical partners on board. However, even one of these money-filled suitcases will let us make the most pressing preparations, notably repairing our yacht and developing our underwater robot. All this groundwork will take just over a year. Then, it’s off to sea! We will set sail along our planned route and begin working on our project intensely, regardless of whether we find sponsors or not. If we do find the necessary sponsorship, we will definitely make history. That’d be nice.
But that’s off to the realm of the desirable again, let’s focus on the pressing tasks for now. We need $1,500,000 to launch our expedition because we need to do several things before we set off:
These numbers are, of course, averages (based on a lot of research and many debates). They could change quite significantly, mainly by getting larger, but perhaps a bit smaller too. More financing would mean better equipment, better quality of work and, as a result, more awesome and engaging content for everyone. We will begin working on yacht repairs with $75,000, which is our priority area of focus at the moment, right after the end of the campaign. Depending on the resources assembled, we will fund the lengthiest and toughest jobs. Completing them will let us set sail on time. And, of course, we’ll deliver all the goodies on time – no questions about that!
But, really, our crowdfunding project has another very significant aim. Its success will show us that our project echoes in the hearts of our potential audience, it will demonstrate that our desire to show hidden, beautiful and awesome facets of the world to our audience rings true with it. And it will be an awesome sight indeed – we guarantee that!
We plan to set sail in late 2015. In the meantime, we will be sure to keep you entertained and engaged. The show starts now. You will see us working hard on our yacht, or else finalizing details of our route. We will make sure to share all the cool stories about the discoveries we already made and the rigorous training we put ourselves though. We’ll introduce you to the team and make sure you’re settled in comfortably before the scientific extravaganza of your life kicks off.
You’re completely correct in thinking that being part of such an epic project is extremely groovy. Not only will you become a part of Team Aquatilis, making the world more colourful one gelata at a time, you’ll also have access to a wide range of exclusive stuff. Join Team Aquatilis! We’ve got goodies! Keep in mind that the final products will probably be even better than the designs you see below, but we thought we'd include them to give you an idea of what to expect. Have a look for yourself:
1. One full resolution photo.
A beautiful digital photo of your choice. Use it in whichever way you want!
You can choose your favourite here: click!
2. Certificates of ownership
Congratulations on owning a piece of our yacht! Please use your power wisely!
3. Postcard from the team
Get a piece of our adventure delivered to your doorstep. Signed and sealed!
4. Gelata Calendar
2015 will be the Year of Plankton and this calendar will help you see it through!
5. Thermal mug
Sip your hot beverages in style while reading about our epic exploits!
6. Aquatilis Book
This weighty volume will capture our journey's most amazing sights.
7. Team T-Shirt
Wear the team's threads! These tees are stylish, long-lasting (and epic).
8. Exclusive Gelata T-Shirt
Colourful, stylish, mysterious. This fashion statement will last a lifetime.
9. Aquatilis Hoodie.
These will keep the team warm near the South Pole and you in your home.
10. Unlimited Access to Aquatilis Photo Archive
Get exclusive, unlimited access to all the photos we take. Forever.
Get all the cool stuff listed above, with a unique adventure-filled cherry on top!
12. Welcome aboard!
Make Aquatilis Expedition your adventure!