Ocean Exploration 2020: A National Forum

19-21 July 2013
Aquarium of the Pacific
Long Beach, CA


Ocean Exploration 2020 Output

Ocean Exploration 2020 will produce a report that:

Ocean Exploration 2020 Outcome

The outcome is that major media outlets carry stories like this one in July 2020:

The U.S. National Ocean Exploration Program brings together federal agencies, academia, and the private sector in an open, inclusive partnership program. It has become the international model for ocean exploration. The President mentions it in her State of the Union address and Congress has elevated the level of support for the program to $75 million per year. The appropriation has grown each year for the past four years.  

The program is carried out on dedicated ships of exploration, on ships of opportunity, and by thousands of citizen explorers on small watercraft using miniaturized remotely operated vehicles that have become widely available. All the data and information are captured and integrated in a timely way and made widely available at no cost. Major media outlets regularly feature the major ocean discoveries that have averaged more than three per year in each of the past four years. The program is driven by a healthy and dynamic mix of curiosity and the national interest and exploration extends to all parts of the World Ocean, including the polar regions. The priorities are set by the community of ocean explorers within broad guidelines of funders.

Technology has increased the number of explorers and given them more powerful tools—a greater number and diversity of platforms, new and more powerful sensors, and enhanced vehicles for image processing and transmission.  Size matters: Everything has gotten smaller, cheaper, and faster.

Ocean exploration has been incorporated into the K-12 curriculum, into textbooks, and into national science standards. Aquariums, museums, and science centers continue to be leaders in energizing the public by providing extended opportunities to participate virtually in ocean exploration. The exploits of ocean explorers have been captured in a live prime time reality TV show that outdraws even the most popular reality TV shows.

The success can be traced back to a gathering of 100 of the nation’s leading ocean explorers in July 2013 in Long Beach, California.


19 July 2013


1:30 pm – 2:00 pm

Ocean Exploration 2020 Welcome and Opening Remarks

Jerry Schubel, President and CEO, Aquarium of the Pacific
Marcia McNutt, Editor-in-Chief of Science Magazine and Ocean Exploration 2020 Executive Chair
Bob Detrick, Assistant Administrator for NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research

2:00 pm – 6:00 pm

A Marketplace of Ideas [streaming live online]

2:00 pm – 2:10 pm Introduction to a Marketplace of Ideas
Rick Spinrad (Moderator) Vice President for Research, Oregon State University

2:10 pm – 2:30 pm Observation Networks, Instruments, and Platforms
Kate Moran, Director, Neptune Canada

2:30 pm – 2:50 pm Exploration and Research
Chris German, Chief Scientist for Deep Submergence, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

2:50 pm – 3:10 pm Data, Data Quality, and Access to Data
Dawn Wright, Chief Scientist, Esri

3:10 pm – 3:30 pm Data Visualization
Jenifer Austin Foulkes, Manager, Google Ocean

3:30 pm – 3:50 pm Citizen Exploration
David Lang and Eric Stackpole, OpenROV

3:50 pm – 4:10 pm Break

4:10 pm – 4:30 pm Ocean Exploration from 2000 to 2020
Marcia McNutt, Editor-in-Chief of Science Magazine and Ocean Exploration 2020 Executive Chair

4:30 pm – 5:45 pm Participants’ Ideas for Ocean Exploration in 2020
[includes ideas from in-person participants and virtual participants]

5:45 pm – 6:00 pm Reflections from the Moderator
Rick Spinrad

6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

Opening Reception

Reception made possible by the Schmidt Ocean Institute


20 July 2013

7:30 am – 8:30 am

Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:30 am – 9:00 am

Opening Plenary:
National Goals for Ocean Exploration 2020: A National Forum
[streaming live online]

9:00 am – 10:00 am

Keynotes:  “Ocean Exploration in 2020—Two Perspectives” [streaming live online]

9:30 am – 9:50 am: Kathy Sullivan, Acting Administrator, NOAA [via video conference]

9:50 am – 10:10 am: David Gallo, Director of Special Projects, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

10:00 am – 10:30 am: Michael Jones, Chief Technology Advocate, Google

10:00 am – 10:15 am

Greetings from Ships of Exploration at Sea: NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, Exploration Vessel Nautilus, Research Vessel Atlantis, and Research Vessel Falkor [streaming live online]

10:15 am – 10:30 am


10:30 am – 11:30 pm

Setting the Stage for a National Program:  Reaction Panel by Three Leading Explorers [streaming live online]

  • Larry Mayer, Director, University of New Hampshire Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Research Center
  • Bruce Robison, Research Division Chair, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
  • Jim Kendall, Alaska Region Director, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

11:30 pm – 2:00 pm

Working Lunch:  What should the National Ocean Exploration Program be in 2020?
[includes >online breakout session for virtual participants] 

  • Exploration priorities (geographies, phenomena, processes)
  • Partnerships and funding
  • Technology
  • Platforms
  • Citizen exploration
  • Data and information management and sharing
  • Public engagement

Discussion materials (pdf, 2.4 Mb)

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Five 15-Point Programs for National Ocean Exploration in 2020 [streaming live online]

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Driving Toward Consensus: Convergence in Expanded Options [streaming live online]

4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Converging on a National Strategy for Ocean Exploration in 2020 [streaming live online]

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm

A National Program for Ocean Exploration [streaming live online]

6:30 pm – 9:00 pm


Reception made possible by the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration


21 July 2013

9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Explorer's Day: Aquarium of the Pacific

Explorer’s Day exit icon is a series of exhibits; lectures; live interactions with ships of exploration, including NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer; and other events to engage the public in ocean exploration. 



Information For:

Virtual Participants

Aquarium of the Pacific Visitors

Members of the Media