Thu, Mar 14, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Indian Ocean exploration makes historic broadcast


A submersible controlled by the British-led Nekton research team descends into the Indian Ocean off Alphonse Atoll near the Seychelles on Tuesday.

Photo: AP

A British-led scientific mission to document changes taking place beneath the Indian Ocean has broadcast its first live, television-quality video transmission from a two-person submersible.

Monsoon storms and fierce underwater currents continued to present a challenge at greater depths as scientific work began in earnest on Tuesday off the Seychelles.

The Associated Press (AP) has successfully broadcast the first multi-camera live signal in full broadcast quality from crewed submersibles using optical video transmission techniques, in which the pictures transmit through the waves using the blue region of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Previous real-time video transmissions from the world’s deep oceans were live streams sent from remotely operated uncrewed subsea vehicles, with the video moving via a fixed fiber-optic cable.

The first transmission came from 60m down. Previous deep-sea live streams cataloging the world’s oceans were via a fiber-optic cable. The new broadcast uses cutting-edge wireless technology, sending video optically through the waves.

The AP is the only news agency working with British scientists from the Nekton research team on its deep-sea mission that aims to unlock the secrets of the Indian Ocean, one of the world’s least explored areas.

The multinational team of scientists is gathering data to help policymakers frame protection and conservation measures.

Nekton Mission director Oliver Steeds said that the experience battling the waves underlines the need to expand scientific knowledge of the waters off the Seychelles, which the team is there to do.

“The problem is, when it comes to this place, when it came to the currents, the last current data that was gathered before we came here was in 1882,” he said. “It’s part of the challenge. This is exploration.”

The day of celebration was cut short when an accident severed the cable of a key piece of equipment, leaving it on the sea bed off the tiny island of Alphonse.

It was not known what cut the cable of the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), although it might have been the ship’s propeller. The camera-carrying ROV is a vital image-gathering tool that can go deeper than the submersibles.

It was not clear what effects the accident would have on the team’s work. The two submersibles were to mount a retrieval operation yesterday.

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