Founding partners


Ocean Census is a global alliance uniting to discover and protect ocean life.


Yohei Sasakawa, Chair of The Nippon Foundation

Who Are We?

Ocean Census is managed and developed by a dedicated and multi-disciplinary core team with expertise in ocean science, taxonomy, sequencing, data management and infrastructure, expeditions, technology development and public and policy engagement.

We coordinate activities undertaken by the Alliance whilst also funding and running Ocean Census Science Network, species discovery, expeditions, and the Ocean Life Media Centre.

The Ocean Census Advisory Board, along with a specialist Science Committee, is being established to provide support, guidance and independent oversight of Ocean Census.

The management, governance and core funding of the programme is provided by the founding partners – The Nippon Foundation and Nekton.

Founding partners

The Nippon Foundation, the largest non-profit foundation in Japan that was established in 1962 for the purpose of carrying out philanthropic activities in areas that extend from eradicating leprosy, providing free education, food security, and above all, issues that surround the marine environment and maritime safety.

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Nekton is a UK, charitable, marine research and conservation institute. Nekton’s mission is to accelerate the scientific exploration and protection of the ocean through large-scale, expeditionary programmes and targeted initiatives – that combine science, story-telling and equity.

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Our Team

Yohei Sasakawa

Chair, The Nippon Foundation

Yohei Sasakawa is Chair of The Nippon Foundation, Japan’s largest charitable foundation. After 20 years in the business sector, Sasakawa joined the foundation in 1981, became President from 1989 and Chair since 2005. Mr Sasakawa’s leadership brings together entities from the political, governmental, academic, and private sectors in addressing a wide range of issues including health, education, food security and the ocean – the latter notably across ocean science, exploration, conservation, policy and maritime safety.

Mitsuyuku Unno

Executive Director, The Nippon Foundation

Mr. Mitsuyuki Unno is the Executive Director of The Nippon Foundation, Ocean Affairs Department, leading the various ocean related programs including Ocean Census, Seabed 2030 and others developing human capacity and new technologies in the maritime and ocean field. Mr. Unno works with various UN agencies, governments, academic institutions, businesses and civil society organisations around the world to address the complex global challenges facing our ocean today.

Oliver Steeds, OBE


Oliver Steeds is the Director of Ocean Census and the Founder and Chief Executive of Nekton. Formerly he was a critically acclaimed broadcast journalist with ABC, NBC, Channel 4, Discovery Channel 4 and others. He is also co-founder of Encounter EDU including the Ocean’s Academy.

Alex Murphy

Head of Finance

Alex is responsible for Ocean Census’ financial and operational management. After starting her career in practice she soon developed a taste for business and commerce and now has over thirty five years of finance experience spanning a wide variety of commercial organisations and industries, including advertising, publishing, retail, design, architecture, capital delivery within the UK water industry, and construction engineering. Since 2018 Alex has been looking after the financial and operational management of Nekton.

Sandy MacIntrye

Media Director

Emmy and Royal Television Society multiple award winning producer, Sandy MacIntyre, leads Ocean Census media, public and policy engagement, broadcast and social media partnerships and also rolls up his sleeves and leads coverage aboard our expeditions. A veteran frontline editor and reporter, his experience in the news business spans four decades. Prior to Ocean Census, Sandy was Vice President of Global Video for The Associated Press, the world’s largest news agency, and non-executive director of a number of media technology and content providers.

Professor Alex David Rogers

Science Director

Alex is a marine ecologist focused on marine biodiversity and human impacts, notably in the deep sea and on tropical coral reefs. He has led and participated in countless field expeditions including to the Atlantic, Indian and Southern Oceans and to the Caribbean. Alex also advises governments, intergovernmental, NGOs and the media in publicising human impacts, especially those from deep-sea fishing and climate change, and on the development of policy solutions to such problems. Alex is the author of ‘The Deep: The Hidden Wonders of Our Ocean and How We Can Protect Them’.

Dr Sarah-Jane Walsh

Head of Expeditions

Sarah-Jane is Head of Expeditions and works closely with the science team to curate expeditions with the goals of species discovery at the heart – ideally going where no scientist has been before. SJ leads the expeditions team and oversees all elements of expedition delivery from conception to the final delivery of specimens to the biodiversity centre. SJ started her career in marine science expeditions working with Operation Wallacea and Earthwatch while completing her PhD in Coral Bleaching. SJ then worked for 10 years leading wildlife filming expeditions for the BBC and Netflix specialising in diving and extreme environments.

Dr Denise Swanborn

Expeditions Manager / Science Coordinator (interim)

Denise is a marine scientist (PhD from the University of Oxford) passionate about scientific exploration and advancing our understanding of the ocean. She has experience developing, implementing and managing multidisciplinary research projects on the interface of science, technology and exploration, including Nekton’s 2022 Maldives Mission. Her involvement in worldwide research expeditions has provided her with hands-on experience of a range of marine research equipment, including submersibles, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), and landers, working in interdisciplinary teams and conveying results with a variety of audiences.

Aimée McAvoy

Digital and Events Manager

Aimée has worked in events and marketing communications for over a decade, with a focus on developing new projects and not-for-profit initiatives, with clients such as Greater London Authority, Bloomberg Associates, Visit Scotland, as well as London Film School’s annual graduate film festival. She previously managed PR and campaign communications at The Film and TV Charity including working on their award-winning relaunch, short film and mental health campaign “SMASHED”, Directed by Tim Pope, the 2019 Royal Film Performance of Sam Mendes’ film “2017”, and a £6m Covid-19 Emergency Response fundraise in 2020.

Robbie Harman

Multimedia Producer

Robbie harnesses his background in zoology and conservation to create and tell original and captivating stories about the natural world. He began his story-telling career as the resident videographer and photographer for a well known safari company and guiding school, before moving into television production, predominantly working on wildlife documentaries for the last 6 years.

Tara McDonald

Finance & Operations Coordinator

Tara is responsible for the day to day finance and administration. She assists the Head of Finance and Central Operations with all financial matters. She has over twenty years of finance experience in various organisations and industries including construction and education. Tara is a qualified Open Water Diver and is interested in developing her ability to explore and help protect our ocean. She enjoys a variety of extracurricular activities to include dance and music.

Sarah Hammond

Creative Content Producer

Sarah is the Creative Content Producer for Nekton, supporting Ocean Census to create and share captivating and noteworthy stories about the discovery and protection of ocean life. Although her preferred piece of kit is a stills camera, Sarah has prior experience in live sports productions and motion capture productions for feature films and video games, and enjoys assuming various roles in both production and post-production.

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We are constantly seeking talented individuals to join our team. Explore all of our open roles below.

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