Founding partners

27 November - 17 December 2023



The Macaronesia Tenerife Submersible and Diver Expedition was a 21-day expedition assembling a world-class coalition of expertise co-delivered in partnership with the Jesús Ortea Research Group, Museo de Ciencias Naturales de Tenerife (MUNA), Universidad de La Laguna (ECOMAR), and Instituto Español de Oceanografía (IEO). Macaronesia is a biogeographical region of eastern-central Atlantic, straddling the equator from the Azores to the Canary Islands at the heart.

The Canary Islands is an active volcanic archipelago in the Macaronesia ecoregion in the Atlantic Ocean. Their location provides the archipelago with peculiar geomorphological, oceanographic, and climatological characteristics that make it a rich location exploding with marine life. The Tenerife coast reaches depths of up to 2,000 metres close to shore, offering a unique opportunity for discovering ocean life.

The Pisces VI class submersible was deployed in the Radazul area down to 300 metres, while the Finnish Scientific Dive Academy navigated shallower waters around Tenerife’s volcanic coastline.

This intense 21-day mission was augmented by a species discovery workshop featuring leading experts from the Ocean Census Science Network, including esteemed taxonomists from the Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER), Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (MNCN-CSIC), Centro Nacional de Biotecnologia (CNB-CSIC), University of Barcelona and Museo del Mar de Ceuta.

Read the media stories and watch the films from the Macaronesia expedition.

Mission to Discover


Platyhelminthes, or ‘Flatworms’ as they are commonly known, are stange, alien-like animals that have no internal body cavity and no specialised organs for circulation or respiration. Instead, they rely purely on diffusion for the transport of oxygen and nutrients. Most Platyhelminthes will be found on the rock samples we collect. Owing to their basic structure they require specialist methods for preservation and study.


Octocorals represent a highly diverse group of colonial organisms, distinguished by numerous polyps with eight (‘octo’) hollow tentacles. Feeding on organic particles drifting through the water, most octocorals extend upwards, adopting various forms such as fans, brushes or whips to help them gather as much food as possible. However, taxonomists have recently discovered that many species of octocorals may look very similar and can only be identified with modern genetic techniques. This is why genetics plays a vital part of this expedition.


Mollusca is the second-largest phylum of invertebrate animals with around 76,000 species of molluscs recognised, and most of these being found in our oceans, making up around 23% of all named marine species. Many marine molluscs are extremely small and often cryptic, meaning very careful specimen collection is required to find them. Our dive team will be utilising specialist equipment to carefully collect rock and sediment samples in which they may be hiding. Then our taxonomic team will study these, alongside sediment samples collected by the submersible, to discover previously unknown species.


Marine Decapoda is a large and diverse group of marine crustaceans that are characterized by their ten legs, hence the name “Decapoda”, which means “ten feet” in Latin. This group includes a wide variety of species, some of which are familiar, such as crabs, lobsters, shrimp, and prawns. Others can be relatively unknown, particularly the smaller more cryptic species. Discovering a new species of Decapoda can be an intricate and time-consuming affair involving the detailed study of small body features such as bristle-like structures called setae or variations in the swimmerets, which are small, paddle-like appendages on the abdomen.

Mission Objectives

Combing multi-displinary research, species discovery, knowledge exchange and public engagement.

  • Science

    Sample the diversity and distribution of deep-sea benthic communities from surface to 300m, particularly Antipatharia, Scleractinia and Alcyonacea.

  • Species Discovery

    Collect cryptic and epifaunal specimens with a high likelihood of species discovery, leading to a curated collection of likely new species held at Museo de Ciencias Naturales de Tenerife (MUNA) that are accessible to researchers for full species description.

  • Media

    Science communications will support work to inspire Tenerifan, Canarian, Spanish and international audiences about species discovery and the role of Ocean Census.

  • Education

    In partnership with Encounter EDU, a series of live lessons will be streamed to young people in schools across the UK and in Tenerife. Additionally, 5 Masters degree students will have the opportunity to participate in taxonomic work through our work with The University of La Laguna.

  • Knowledge Sharing

    Supporting the development of taxonomic skills, capacity building and partnerships within the Macaronesia region, paving the way for the future of marine species discovery.

Expedition partners

Related expeditions

  • Active expeditions
  • Future expeditions
  • Previous expeditions

Related news

Get in touch

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.