Filmmaker James Cameron to bring marine exploration into sharp focus at OiA

Source: press release, 18 February 2019

OiA ‘19 Conference Chairman, Ralph Rayner, on stage at Catch The Next Wave in San Diego in 2017 (photo: OiA)
OiA ‘19 Conference Chairman, Ralph Rayner, on stage at Catch The Next Wave in San Diego in 2017 (photo: OiA)

After 50 years as a mouthpiece and marketplace for the most transformative developments in ocean science and technology, Oceanology International (Oi) is due to celebrate its half-century with the Oceanology International Americas 2019 (OiA ‘19) conference and exhibition in the San Diego Convention Center, 25-27 February 2019, organised in association with The Maritime Alliance and featuring a Welcome Video by filmmaker James Cameron among its many highlights.

From its comparatively modest but well-starred debut in Brighton in February 1969, this pivotal marine industry forum has steadily grown in terms of profile, attendance and commensurate influence, carrying with it a snowballing reputation as a must-attend showcase with an established global reach. To this end, the Oi portfolio now includes sister events in China (launched in 2013) and the US (launched in 2017).

OiA ‘19, the second American Oi event, finds the conference and exhibition returning to the San Diego Convention Center, advantageously located on the water. A second hall has been added to help accommodate the event’s total of around 200 exhibitors (increasing from 170 in 2017), who will be promoting their products and services to an anticipated 2,750 attendees.

Where the free-to-attend exhibition has traditionally acted as an expedient shop window via which to display, demonstrate and/or discover the latest technological breakthroughs, its impact only mirrors the ground-breaking significance of the collaborative ocean science and technology developments pursued and discussed within the Oi conference schedule. Expanding its remit year upon year, the Oi conference promotes the most forward-thinking developments and concepts across a range of pertinent ocean conservation and sustainability issues, and the OiA ‘19 conference programme promises to provide delegates with the most comprehensive programme to date.

On the opening day of the show, Monday, 25 February 2019, the 1-day Ocean Futures Forum (new to OiA) will comprise a series of presentations and panel discussions examining anticipated issues, requirements and developments relating to aquaculture, ocean and coastal infrastructure protection, offshore marine renewable energy and the overall Blue Economy. Confirmed presenters include Wendy Watson Wright, CEO, Ocean Frontier Institute; Plenary Co-Chair Rick Spinrad, President, Marine Technology Society (MTS); and Jason Giffen, Assistant Vice President, Planning & Green Port, Port of San Diego.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019, meanwhile, will see the staging of another one-day event, Catch The Next Wave: Frontiers of Exploration, organised in partnership with The Explorers Club and a cornerstone of Oi events since 2012. Utilising speaker pairings of explorers and scientists or technologists, the event has been devised to illustrate how closely aligned the disciplines of exploration and technology have become, as interdependent drivers each spurring the other onwards.

A particularly noteworthy feature of the event is that it will be prefaced with a Welcome Video from renowned filmmaker, passionate deep-sea explorer and philanthropist James Cameron, best known in the wider sphere for directing blockbusters such as Avatar, The Abyss, Titanic and Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

Following Cameron’s welcome, a keynote will be delivered by Don Walsh, President of International Maritime Inc. Formerly a US Navy captain, Don Walsh has achieved a great deal in a career spanning more than 65 years, including a record-breaking 1960 dive in the bathyscaphe Trieste to a depth of almost 36,000ft in the Mariana Trench and, mirroring one of James Cameron’s major preoccupations, dives to infamous wreck sites including that of RMS Titanic. Walsh was aboard Cameron’s submersible when the latter mounted a 2012 expedition to repeat Walsh’s momentous 1960 Mariana Trench dive.

Confirmed speakers for Catch The Next Wave include Michael Gernhardt, NASA Astronaut and Manager of Environmental Physiology Laboratory, Johnson Space Center; Douglas Bartlett, Professor of Marine Microbiology, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; and Kelly Benoit-Bird, Senior Scientist, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).

Of central importance to the conference schedule will be a string of technical tracks running across all three days of OiA ‘19 and training a spotlight on the topics of Ocean ICT; Unmanned Vehicles, Vessels & Robotics; Observation & Sensing; Hydrography, Geophysics & Geotechnics; Navigation & Positioning; and Marine Pollution & Environmental Stressors. Within these capsule headings, dedicated sessions will go into facets of each subject in detail, providing attendees with the most comprehensive understanding possible, within the allocated times, of the topics in question.

Rounding off OiA ‘19 in appropriate fashion on its third day, a just-announced, free-to-attend 50-Year Celebration Event on the exhibition floor will pay homage to Oceanology International by tracing the many revolutionary advancements which the show has brought to light in each decade during its half-century existence. Subjects to be covered include Manned Exploration (1970s), The Emergence Of ROVs (1980s), Ocean Observation (1990s), Autonomous Platforms (00s) and Sustainability With A Look Into The Future (10s).

“The 50-Year Celebration Event is destined to be a memorable demonstration of just how many technological innovations and progressive concepts have been hosted under the Oi umbrella,” says Ralph Rayner, OiA ‘19 Conference Chairman, “and yet the most exciting thought is that we’re really still only scratching the surface of what’s achievable in the future, as the ocean science and technology community responds to the pressing needs surrounding sustainable growth of the ocean economy.”

OiA will also include a Future Tech Hub to alert delegates to some of the most forward-thinking technologies on the market, while a Careers Day on Wednesday, 27 February will proffer practical advice and indispensable insights for students aiming to launch careers in the marine science sector – the industry pioneers of tomorrow.

To register for OiA ‘19, visit