Dieter Paulmann’s love for oceans and underwater filmmaking led to the establishment of the Okeanos Foundation to support a variety of ocean advocacy, research and communication projects. Since 2007, Okeanos has been supporting symposia on ocean noise, climate change, and the role of phytoplankton while collaborating with globally recognized science communicators such as Carl Safina.
Deeply troubled by the global threat to biodiversity, in 2009 Okeanos began producing the feature documentary Racing Extinction, directed by Academy Award winner Louis Psihoyos. Filmed across the globe over 5 years, Racing Extinction draws attention to mankind’s role in a potential loss of at least half of the world’s species. On December 2nd 2015, Racing Extinction was broadcasted simultaneously in 220 countries by the Discovery Channel in recognition of the United Nations’ Paris Climate Conference. Please visit our page Racing Extinction Film Project to learn more.
In 2010, Okeanos began working with voyaging societies across the Pacific to develop and build a fleet of seven traditionally designed, fossil fuel free double masted Vaka Moanas, representing ten island nations. The spirit of tradition and ancient wisdom spoke to our hearts and created a longing for solidarity, cooperation, and kinship.
Our international voyage ‘Te Mana O Te Moana’ (The Spirit of the Ocean) began in April 2011. Over the course of two years, hundreds of sailors navigated from Aotearoa to Hawai’i to the US West Coast with a historic arrival at San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge in August 2011. Our journey home began January 2012 with stops at Cocos Islands, Galapagos, Tahiti, Cook Islands, Samoa, Fiji and Vanuatu concluding at the Festival of Pacific Arts in the Solomon Islands, August 2012.
Our voyage demonstrated the genius of Pacific vaka design and the power of the almost lost culture of celestial navigation.
Collectively we safely sailed 210,000 nautical miles of open ocean and showed the world the great power and potential of the vaka.
Our entire Te Mana O Te Moana journey was filmed. In hundreds of hours of professional footage, the evolution of powerful navigators prepared and the longing to give back to their communities can be experienced. We are currently expanding our earlier Te Mana O Te Moana film story into the feature documentary The Starchasers that follows our heroic Pacific navigators as they chart new waters implementing sustainable development strategies for their communities. Please visit our The Starchasers webpage to learn more.
Te Mana O Te Moana voyage launched a renaissance in traditionally based ocean stewardship and engagement. Our journey embraced the collective ethos that we must look to the past to prepare for the challenges of the future.
While visiting small island nations, powerful and transformative ideas collectively emerged as to how traditionally designed fossil fuel free modern vakas could best be incorporated into the day to day lives of the Pacific peoples. Today, the Okeanos journey continues building upon the success and trained community of Te Mana O Te Moana.
We have designed a new vaka – The Vaka Motu – from information shared by many different island groups, resulting in sailing vessels specific to Pacific inter-island transport that are culturally meaningful, environmentally sustainable while satisfying all sea transportation needs. Our new vaka technology connects the best of the past with the best of the future including solar panels and, most recently, coconut oil-fueled engines, perfectly suited for fossil-fuel free transport of people, food, medicine, and supplies between South Pacific Islands.
One of the vaka motu arrived in Vanuatu for the first time in 2012 under the name Okeanos. Okeanos and the other vakas were, at the time, on their way to the Pacific Art Festival in the Solomon islands.
After the cyclone PAM, 13th of March 2015, the strongest ever recorded in the south hemisphere, the Okeanos came back. This vaka and its crew have helped with disaster relief work by delivering crops and seedlings to the different islands where the agriculture was weakened or destroyed. Often from Malekula to Epi, Tongoa, Tongariki and the rest of the Sheperds. Sustainable food source were delivered, allowing the communities to feed themselves on the long run.They also delivered water, medical supplies and other goods. The Okeanos crew was able to sail to very remote island groups and provide urgently needed help; they also carried members of international aid organizations to these places to evaluate the damage and need on these islands.
In 2016 it sailed back to New-Zealand in order to transform their solar-powered engines into coconut oil-powered engines and sail all the way back to become Okeanos Vanuatu.
In October 2017, Okeanos Sustainable Sea Transport wins the prestigious 16th Skål International Sustainable Tourism Award at the 78th Skål World Congress in the “transportation” category.