SuRi Boldly Goes

24 April 2020 By Laura Dunn

The 63.4-meter explorer SuRi has begun an epic two-year expedition as part of a global project to map the seabed. Organized by Cookson Adventures, the trip will facilitate the private seven-seat submersible expedition, allowing clients to discover marine wildlife and World War II wrecks while helping to create the first 3D map of the ocean floor. The expedition started in the Solomon Islands in January and will visit some of the most remote Pacific islands before ending in the Galapagos Islands in July 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic will be carefully monitored throughout to ensure clients are not at any risk whatsoever.

“At this stage, we have mapped several exciting shipwrecks in the Solomon Islands,” says William Siddeley, project manager for Cookson Adventures. “Our client’s goal is to contribute all mapped areas into Seabed 2030, [an] initiative that is aiming [to] map the entire ocean floor by 2030.”

As they travel to remote destinations with SuRi, the underwater mapping system will enable them to better understand the bathymetry of the seabed below.

As for why mapping the seabed is important at all, 3D maps give extremely accurate depth readings. It displays any geological features below the ocean’s surface, such as shipwrecks, reefs, and the seabed.

Finding the best dive locations “is key so that the clients can enjoy stunning coral reefs, schools of fish, or large aggregations of sharks, for instance. The submarine can dive until 300 meters — therefore there is a sense you are exploring the unknown,” he says. Typically, a dive can last anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours. “It is up to the client on when they choose to return to the surface and the duration of their dive,” Siddeley says.

As for any restrictions in place, these are mainly to do with currents and swells, which limit the options of dive locations. “It’s essential to understand the movements of the currents to ensure safety in any submarine diving operation,” Siddeley says.

In addition to the pilot, there are six remaining passenger seats reserved for the client’s family. Cookson Adventures also arranges for marine biologists and experts to be present at the clients’ request to add greater significance to their underwater viewing experience.

Cookson Adventures arranges the expedition services for the trips and their client, including designing the itinerary. They’re responsible for ensuring the conditions are safe for submarine diving, plus coordinating a highly specialized submarine team to be on board SuRi for these journeys.