In March, the Schmidt Ocean Institute announced today the donation of its 82.9-meter research vessel “Falkor” to the National Research Council of the CNR, also member of the Italy-IORA Committee, thus expanding the institute’s fleet of research vessels and continuing the legacy of the “Falkor” in conducting marine research. The ship will be renamed “Gaia Blu“. Built in 1981 as a fisheries protection vessel, the “Falkor” was bought by Eric and Wendy Schmidt in 2009 when they founded the Schmidt Ocean Institute. After an extensive refit that lasted three years, the research vessel was transformed into the first philanthropic research vessel made available free of charge to the international scientific community. To date, the research ship “Falkor” has undertaken 81 expeditions hosting 1,056 scientists from all over the world. The ship has traveled more than 12 times around the world and has mapped over 1.3 million square kilometers of ocean floor. Organized expeditions using the “Falkor” have led to numerous discoveries, including a 500-meter-high coral reef in the Great Barrier Reef, beautiful deep-sea coral “gardens” off southwestern Australia, and a collection of rare footage of the mysterious transparent octopus.
“After a decade of extraordinary scientific discovery and research with the Schmidt Ocean Institute, we cannot imagine a better home than the CNR for the ‘Falkor’ ship“, said Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of the Schmidt Ocean Institute. “We are delighted that ‘Falkor’ will continue to explore the ocean, support marine research and raise awareness of the wonders of the seas to the general public.” The CNR has contributed substantially to marine research in the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean and the polar regions; is the largest research institution in Italy and includes 88 institutes distributed throughout the national territory. The marine community of the CNR is made up of over 450 people who work in the Departments of Earth System Sciences and Technologies for the Environment and Engineering, ICT and technologies for energy and transport.
“CNR has a century of experience conducting national and international research and invests in talented researchers, making it the ideal home for the ‘Falkor’ ship“, said Eric Schmidt, co-founder of the Schmidt Ocean Institute. “We are confident that research on the ship in the coming years will lead to new and exciting discoveries.”
“Receiving the research vessel ‘Falkor’ from the Schmidt Ocean Institute is extremely advantageous for the CNR and for the entire Italian scientific community“, said prof. Maria Chiara Carrozza, president of the CNR. “This donation will favor collaboration with international research institutes and universities involved in the study of the Mediterranean basin, one of the cradles of human civilization, strongly affected by the anthropic impact. Falkor will also offer a unique opportunity for the entire Italian scientific community to conduct marine research in the ocean on a multi-year basis, as part of European and international projects“.