HomeTravelUnderwater expedition aims to unravel mysteries of the Maldives

Underwater expedition aims to unravel mysteries of the Maldives

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(CNN) — Think “Maldives” and the first pictures that come to thoughts for a lot of are rows of overwater luxurious villas jutting out from lengthy wood docks, or beautiful seashores edged by stunningly white sands.

But in spite of the Maldives being one of the world’s most coveted locations for a trip, not to point out a dream vacation spot for scuba divers, scientists say there’s quite a bit they’ve but to find out about its underwater ecosystems.

Now, the Maldivian authorities and UK marine analysis institute Nekton have teamed up to unravel some of these mysteries by launching an formidable expedition into the nation’s unexplored waters.

The Nekton Maldives Mission, which launches on September 4 and consists of groups of scientists from the Maldives and overseas, plans to perform intensive analysis beneath 30 meters utilizing two high-tech submersibles — one of which may go as deep as 1,000 meters.

The purpose is to assist the Maldives handle the impression of the world local weather disaster.

“The Maldives is 99% ocean and just 1% land, sitting on average 1.5 meters above the sea. As a result, the nation faces a growing threat from the rising seas,” says an announcement from Nekton.

“But, armed with more knowledge of what their waters contain, work can begin to protect what lives there and safeguard the environment those species inhabit, which in turn makes the country better able to withstand climate change.”

The institute says 10 Maldivian marine scientists have been chosen as the first “Maldivian Aquanauts” to lead over 30 first descents in submersibles to discover the nation’s deeps. The very first descent shall be led by an all-women crew of aquanauts.

The Omega Seamaster 2 Submersible, seen right here exploring the waters of the Seychelles in 2019.


“We are determining the location, health and resilience of our coral reefs, especially the deeper ecosystems which we know very little about, so that key habitats may be identified for protection and management,” stated Maldivian crew chief Shafiya Naeem, director common of the Maldives Marine Research Institute, in an announcement.

“The reefs that surround our atolls help reduce the impacts from sea level rise and the increasing frequency and intensity of storms, and forms the basis of our economies, livelihoods and sustenance.”

A 35-day mission

The RV Odyssey, an expedition ship, will carry scientists from the Maldives, UK, India, and South Africa on the 35-day mission by the nation’s huge waters.

The ship has two submersibles, every of which may carry a pilot and two scientists. These shall be used alongside robotic and autonomous programs and over a dozen analysis applied sciences to accumulate information.

The newer of the two submersibles is the REV Ocean-owned Aurelia, which went by intensive sea trials off the coast of Barcelona this summer season and is now licensed as the world’s most superior craft of her variety, says Nekton in the assertion.

The Omega Seamaster 2 will be used to explore up to 500 meters below the surface.

The Omega Seamaster 2 shall be used to discover up to 500 meters beneath the floor.


The second submersible, the Omega Seamaster 2, is the identical model used on a Nekton mission to the Seychelles in 2019, the place marine explorers “found dozens of new species and mapped the waters off the coast which were previously uncharted below 30 meters.”

The Aurelia will function at depths of up to 1,000 meters, whereas the Omega Seamaster 2 shall be used to discover the first 500 meters beneath the floor.

As for what’s going to happen on the 35-day mission, marine biologists, information scientists and movie producers will accumulate species samples, perform intensive mapping operations and video the state of the corals round the Maldives.

Oxford University, which is collaborating in the mission, says scientists may even examine how ocean life tailored to historic rising sea ranges brought on by ice soften from the final Ice Age and discover the “largely unknown and unprotected deep corals and reefs of the Rariphotic Zone, which act as a refuge to animals from shallower waters.”

They may even “investigate the relative abundance of the 40 shark and 18 ray species at the apex of the food chain in the Maldives ocean, which act as a critical indicator of ocean health,” it stated in an announcement.

Among the deliberate mapping operations is a survey of a subsea mountain in the Northern Indian Ocean.

According to Nekton, all samples and information collected will stay the property of the Maldives — “a departure from some Western-led science expeditions of the past.”

Supporting sustainable tourism improvement

So what does all of this have to do with tourism in the Maldives?

The nation is made up of 26 atolls stuffed with over 1,000 islands occupied by dozens of resorts, all unfold out over 90,000 sq. kilometers. According to the World Bank, the Maldives acquired over 1.3 million vacationers in 2021 — about 80% of 2019 ranges. Tourism makes up round 28% of its GDP.

Documenting the state of the nation’s waters can help sustainable tourism improvement, says a Nekton briefing on the mission: “The health of the reefs is fundamental to the two largest sectors of the Maldivian economy, tourism and fisheries. Apart from the economic benefit its coral reefs provide, they are the first line of defense against waves and storms, which are becoming more frequent and intense.”

Protecting the animal species that reside there may be additionally very important, because it “results in a healthier ocean, supporting sustainable fisheries and a growth in tourism,” says the mission briefing, which notes that manta ray tourism alone generates an estimated US$15 million yearly in income.



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