Ocean Talks 2019: Adventure experts reveal groundbreaking scientific expeditions
by Miranda Blazeby
Cookson Adventures director of operations Tom Hutton and the team behind the Five Deeps dives sat down with BOAT International to discuss their ground-breaking expeditions.
Adventure experts used to occasion of this year’s BOAT International Ocean Talks to reveal the incredible scientific expeditions funded by owners and clients.
Tom Hutton, director of operations for Cookson Adventures, opened up about ground-breaking research in Antarctica, which led to a rare species of killer whale being documented for the first time.
The expedition began when Cookson Adventures was approached by a client interested in funding killer whale research as part of a trip to the Antarctic Peninsula.
“We came across this client who wanted to visit the Antarctic and one of the things that came out of our conversations was his real passion for whales," Hutton said.
Cookson was instrumental in pairing the client with the expertise of leading killer whale expert Dr Bob Pitman and the 22-metre expedition yacht Australis, from which Dr Pitman’s team were able to conduct their research.
The expedition proved successful, resulting in the collection of crucial samples from the “Type D” orca, which will now help scientists unravel the secrets of the curious sub-species.
Hutton said the client’s desire for an authentic and immersive experience was reflective of a wider market trend.
“The high net worth individual wants to be able to get involved, to touch and feel things and have that proper experience that they can take away,” Hutton said. “It’s about making the trip part of a conservation experience.”
Hutton also revealed that Cookson is currently working with a client to draw up a three-month travel programme to enable him to identify major global issues and dedicate funding research for the next 12 months. “It’s a real privilege for us to be able to help him do that,” Hutton said.
In the same session, the team behind the Five Deeps expedition revealed how explorer Victor Vescovo funded the record-breaking attempt to dive to the deepest points of each of the world’s five oceans.
Vescovo had already completed the “explorer’s Grand Slam” by successfully climbing the seven highest peaks on each continent, as well as travelling to both the North and South Poles.
The mammoth Five Deeps expedition was launched by charter specialist EYOS Expeditions following three years of preparation and research and has already ramped up a list of impressive achievements.
These include setting a new deep diving record for the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, the deepest point in the Pacific Ocean, as well as diving to the deepest points of the Atlantic and Southern Oceans. Vescovo can also lay claim to being the first ever human to dive to the Java Trench, the deepest point in the Indian Ocean.
During the Java Trench expedition, the Triton-built submersible Limiting Factor, described by expedition leader Rob McCullum as “the world’s first full ocean depth submarine available for private ownership”, recorded the existence of a new species which left scientists “speechless”.
He said that the success of the Triton submersible, which means humanity now “has a tool that can take us to any depth at any time” as a notable high point of the expedition, while his low point was the realisation that micro-plastics are “everywhere”.