Ocean data startup Spoondrift and underwater drone developer OpenROV have announced that they have merged to form Sofar Ocean Technologies.

Sofar brings together two teams who have experience developing and scaling tools for distributed ocean sensing and monitoring, as the newly formed company notes that the world’s oceans remain “largely unexplored, misunderstood, and tragically under-utilized.”

“There have been multiple approaches to capturing ocean data but up to this point they have been large, expensive and generally inaccessible by the ordinary person,” says Peter Rive, chairman of Sofar. Rive led a $7 million Series A financing round for Sofar.

“I believe the best approach to reaching a deeper understanding of our oceans is to have pervasive sensors and drones transmitting information in real-time. By forming Sofar we have great products available right now as well as a platform for future development.”

​Two of Sofar’s flagship products, Spotter and Trident, are now available.

Described as a “compact, solar-powered device,” Spotter transmits weather information such as wave and wind conditions in real-time. The device can be moored in place or can be free-floating, and users can access data previously unavailable through an online dashboard or a mobile app.

“Spotter could revolutionize the way we monitor remote ocean basins through a constellation of drifting buoys,” says Dr. Aitana Forcén-Vázquez of MetOcean Solutions.

“These buoys (Spotters) are surprisingly easy to deploy, very light and easy to handle, and can be lowered in the water by hand using a line. As a result, you can deploy them in almost any kind of conditions…”

Meanwhile, Trident is an underwater drone designed for exploration, research, and inspection. With its rugged build, Trident provides an accessible way to gather imagery and data from below the surface, as it can dive up to 100 meters and stream live video to a smartphone or tablet. The drone is also open source and can easily be extended for various underwater uses.

“The biggest hurdles to understanding the ocean have been expense and exclusivity — the tools have been too costly and too hard to use,” explains David Lang, co-founder of Sofar.

“We’re changing that through the design of accessible ocean exploration tools.”