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New expedition will explore uncharted depths of the Indian Ocean

Preparations are underway for a new expedition to explore uncharted depths of the Indian Ocean.

Many areas of the Indian Ocean and the Seychelles, an island nation off the coast of east Africa, have yet to be explored. The goal of the Nekton Mission is to take a first look at the deep Indian Ocean and see how climate change is impacting the area’s underwater ecosystem.

The Associated Press reported this week that the Nekton Mission’s expedition vessel, the Ocean Zephyr, was getting ready to leave Bremerhaven, Germany.

For the first part of the mission, researchers will work on mapping the seafloor and exploring the area with both human-crewed and un-crewed submarines and remotely operated submersibles.

Sensors will also be dropped around the seafloor at depths of 6,560 feet around the Seychelles, according to the Associated Press.

What’s exciting about this mission is that people from all over the globe will be able to monitor the progress and tune in and watch live broadcasts from underwater cameras.

Oliver Steeds, a member of the research team undertaking the explorations, told the Associated Press that broadcasting the camera feeds is pioneering and will allow people to journey along with the expedition. The AP will also be accompanying the mission and recording the progress of the expedition.

Understanding how climate change is impacting the Indian Ocean ecosystem is critical because so many people live near the ocean’s coasts. People in the Seychelles are already feeling the impacts of climate change with coral bleaching and changes in ocean temperatures.

Changes in the Indian Ocean could potentially impact over two billion people in the region. The Seychelles are particularly of interest to the expedition because the country wants to start mining oil and gas from the ocean floor.

However, in order to understand how a deep-sea mining operation would impact the Indian Ocean ecosystem, researchers must first find out what species live in the area.

“Our ocean is undergoing rapid ecological transformation by human activities,” Callum Roberts, a trustee of the expedition, told the Associated Press. “Seychelles are a critical beacon and bellwether for marine conservation in the Indian Ocean and globally.”

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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