Journey to the Bottom of the Sea: Scientists to Reveal Unexplored Regions in the Indian Ocean

"In the Indian Ocean, the deeper zones are almost completely uninvestigated. We simply don't know what's there."

A Voyage into the unknown is the explore the Indian Ocean’s hidden regions, and venture out where none has ever been.

A new scientific mission has been launched that aims to explore the uncharted depths and mysteries in the Indian Ocean.

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Scientists hope their new mission will uncover as many as hundreds of new species, as well as find out what impact pollution has on deep-sea marine life.

The first descent expedition, led by British-based ocean research institute Nekton, is set to send submersible vehicles down as deep as 3,000 meters off Seychelles from March to test the health of the ocean.

The mission could find 100 to a thousand new species, including lots of new corals. Image Credit: Nekton / AFP.
The mission could find 100 to a thousand new species, including lots of new corals. Image Credit: Nekton / AFP.

Scientists believe that the mission could reveal never-before species as well as a plethora of new corals.

“The mission is focusing on 30 meters down to 3,000 meters. This is where you get the peak diversity of species,” explained Professor Alex Rogers, part of the scientific team.

“In the Indian Ocean, the deeper zones are almost completely uninvestigated. We simply don’t know what’s there.”

More than 50 scientists, engineers as well as technicians will be taking part in the scientific mission whose headquarters will be the Ocean Zephyr mother ship, currently on way from Bremerhaven in Germany to the Seychelles.

Scientists expect to uncover unprecedented biodiversity.

“The more you zoom in, the more diversity you’re going to find. I’m really confident that we’ll discover many new species,” said Rogers.

“The ocean is suffering serious degradation from over-fishing, pollution and climate change. It’s critically important to understand how life is distributed in the oceans now, so we can make decisions better to manage the oceans.”

Two submersible vehicles will see scientists explore the deepest parts of the Indian Ocean with as many as seventeen different scientific instruments, as well as 18 cameras that will help experts create the first-ever three-dimensional maps of deep-sea ecosystems.

Luckily, during the mission, some of the dives will even be broadcasted live.

Ocean campaigner Emily Penn explained that in addition to showing a never-before-seen ecosystem, the expedition could help provide new data on the impact of plastic waste, thousands of meters below the surface.

“We really don’t know what’s going on in the deep ocean when it comes to plastic,” she explained.

“We know 8 million tons of plastic is going into the ocean every year and we’re only finding a fraction of it on the surface. The big question is: where is all the rest of it going?”

“We expect that it’s mostly sinking — but until we actually go there, we don’t know how much is down there and the impact it might be having.”