Ocean Census Launch Ceremony

Venue: London

Your Excellency Mr. Hajime Hayashi, Japanese Ambassador, Mr. Rupert Grey, Chair of the Nekton Foundation, and distinguished participants. It gives me great pleasure that today, together with the Nekton Foundation, we are ready to embark on an ambitious mission to protect the ocean environment by unlocking the mysteries of the marine ecosystem. We are now sailing out into romantic adventure filled with passion and dreams.

Since our founding, The Nippon Foundation has made great efforts, through diverse initiatives, to open the way for a healthy ocean and to pass it on to future generations. Our work includes many exciting projects such as nurturing one thousand and six hundred ocean professionals from one hundred and fifty countries, opening up the unexplored Arctic sea route, completing the mapping of the global ocean floor, and developing unmanned autonomous vessels. I, myself, reading Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” as a young boy, I was captivated by the wonders of the ocean. The great seabed adventure…the battle with the gigantic octopus…food I could never imagine…They were all a surprising shock to me. Particularly, encounters with different marine life triggered my strong curiosity towards the undiscovered ocean. My childhood desire to “want to learn more about the unknown ocean” and to “unravel the mysteries of the ocean” has grown even stronger today/, for an eighty-four-year-old young boy.

Despite the amazing speed with which science and technology have advanced and we have one hundred percent knowledge of the topography of Mars, we still know very little about the “Mother Ocean” that nurtures all living things. As for marine organisms, it is said that we only know around ten percent in total. To discover these unknown marine organisms hidden in the ocean, we present to you here today, Ocean Census.

May I now have your attention and watch the video. You all know that long time ago, there was a legendary sea monster called Kraken. There is a theory that it is in fact a giant squid. This giant squid is close to ten meters long and lives at a depth of one thousand meters in the sea. Japan Broadcasting Corporation successfully filmed it. The following video shows a Yokozuna slick head, taken by JAMSTEC. This is a new specie discovered in Japan a few years ago. It is a deep sea-hunter that lives at two thousand meters in the deep sea. Next is a snail called Conus magnus which was discovered nearly three hundred years ago. The recent study found that its venom of when used as painkiller is one thousand percent more potent than morphine.

As we can see, through the discovery of living beings that were no more than a fantasy or those already discovered, of which new species and their characteristics have the potential to make our life more enriching. We sincerely hope that the Ocean Census project will bring about similar exciting discoveries. The characteristic of this project is that it not only explores unknown marine organisms but analyzes and manages the vast amount of data collected through exploration, and to disseminate the information to the entire world. We hope that in doing so it will lead to the preservation of biodiversity and ocean environment.

As you know, the ocean covers seventy percent of the Earth. Although there are close to two hundred separate countries, there is only one single ocean, and it is a common asset of humankind. Should the ocean be the fundamental element for the coprosperity of humankind, I cannot but wish that this project will be a catalyst to the further advancement of humankind. Such an ambitious project, full of dreams and potential, cannot be accomplished by The Nippon Foundation and the Nekton Foundation alone. I would like to work in collaboration with the ocean research institutes around the world, and all present here today to unravel the mysteries of the ocean together. Once again, I am delighted that we have been able to celebrate the launch of our Ocean Census project with you. Thank you very much.