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Beyond Challenger: a new age of deep-sea science and exploration

Discussion meeting


The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG


Scientific discussion meeting organised by Dr Kerry Howell, Professor Paul Tyler, Dr Alan Jamieson and Dr Bhavani Narayanaswamy

A robotic arm of an ROV collecting a coral specimen from the deep-sea floor. Credit: Plymouth University, Cefas, NUIG and the Irish Marine Institute.

The deep-sea is the largest ecosystem on earth covering 60% of the planet’s surface. However, our fundamental knowledge of this ecosystem has been limited by the logistical challenges of conducting research in this environment. This meeting will explore how recent developments in autonomous and robotic technologies could bring about a step-change in deep-sea research, ultimately revolutionising understanding of global biodiversity.

The schedule of talks and speaker biographies are available below. Recorded audio of the presentations will be available on this page after the meeting has taken place.

Poster session

There will be a poster session at 17:00 on Monday 12 November. If you would like to apply to present a poster please submit your proposed title, abstract (not more than 200 words and in third person), author list, name of the proposed presenter and institution to the Scientific Programmes team with the subject heading "Beyond Challenger: poster abstract" no later than Friday 12 October 2018. Please note that places are limited and posters are selected at the scientific organiser's discretion. Poster abstracts will only be considered if the presenter is registered to attend the meeting.

Attending the event

This meeting is intended for researchers in relevant fields.

  • Free to attend
  • Limited places, advanced registration is essential
  • An optional lunch can be purchased during registration

An evening poster session and drinks reception will be held following the close of the meeting on 12 November. Whilst the posters are free to view for all registered participants, the corresponding optional drinks reception is ticketed. Drinks reception tickets can be purchased in advance during registration.

Enquiries: Contact the Scientific Programmes team.

Event organisers

Select an organiser for more information

Schedule of talks

12 November


Challenges in deep-sea ecology

5 talks Show detail Hide detail


Professor Michael Rex, University of Massachusetts Boston, USA

09:05-09:30 Before HMS Challenger: from earlier expeditions to lobbying for the deep

Dr Jon Copley, University of Southampton, UK

Show speakers

09:30-10:00 What lives in the deep-sea? A not-so-ancient answer to an ancient question

Dr Adrian Glover, Natural History Museum, UK

Show speakers

10:00-10:30 Discussion

10:30-11:00 Coffee

11:00-11:20 End-to-end understanding of energy flow at hydrothermal vents

Dr William Reid, Newcastle University, UK

Show speakers


11:20-11:45 Into the great wide open: plumbing ocean depths in the 21st century

Dr Paul Snelgrove, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada

Show speakers

11:45-12:15 Discussion




Recent advances in autonomous technology and artificial intelligence

4 talks Show detail Hide detail


Dr Ana Hilario, CESAM, University of Aveiro, Portugal

13:15-13:45 High-resolution imaging in marine habitats using Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

Professor Stefan B Williams, University of Sydney, Australia

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13:45-14:15 Whole site multi-resolution photogrammetric surveys of deep-sea vents and cold seeps

Dr Blair Thornton, University of Southampton, UK

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14:15-14:45 Discussion

14:45-15:15 Tea


15:45-16:15 Sampling our oceans and issues of taxonomic identification

Dr Philip Culverhouse, Plymouth University, UK

Show speakers

16:15-16:45 Discussion

13 November


The application of new technology to deep-sea ecological research

4 talks Show detail Hide detail


Dr Christopher R German MBE, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA


Dr Diva Amon, Natural History Museum, UK

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09:30-10:00 Use of autonomous vehicles to understand abyssal ecology

Dr Jennifer Durden, University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA

Show speakers

09:30-10:00 Coffee

11:00-11:30 Advances in ecogenomic technologies in marine environments

Dr Julie Robidart, National Oceanography Centre, UK

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11:30-12:00 Challenges and progress in the application of artificial intelligence to taxon identification in sea-floor imagery

Dr Kerry Howell, Plymouth University, UK

Show speakers

12:00-12:30 Discussion




Future deep-sea ecology

4 talks Show detail Hide detail


Dr Maria Baker, University of Southampton, UK

13:30-14:00 Nekton XL Catlin deep-ocean survey and the potential of non-government funded deep-sea exploration

Professor Alex Rogers, University of Oxford, UK

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14:00-14:30 Planning and executing a round-the-world deep sea expedition: experience from the 5-Deeps

Dr Alan Jamieson, Newcastle University, UK

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14:30-15:00 Discussion

15:00-15:30 Tea

15:30-16:00 The challenge of exploring and protecting deep-sea ecosystems

Professor Roberto Danovaro, Polytechnic University of Marche and Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Italy

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16:00-17:00 Panel discussion/overview

Beyond Challenger: a new age of deep-sea science and exploration

12 - 13 November 2018

The Royal Society, London 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK
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