Scientists believe they have discovered the “penumbra zone” of the Indian Ocean after a seven-week mission
The British-led scientific mission Nekton completed a seven-week expedition in the Indian Ocean on Thursday to document changes in waves that could affect billions of people in the surrounding region in the coming decades.
Little is known about the aquatic world less than 30 meters deep, the limit that a normal diver can reach. Operating up to 450 meters above sea level with manned submarines and submarine drones on the island of Seychelles, scientists were the first to explore areas of great diversity where sunlight weakens and where the deep ocean begins.
There are many who underestimate the role of the oceans in climate regulation and threats to them from global warming. Scientific missions are essential to take stock of the health of underwater ecosystems.
Lead scientist Lucy Woodall described the mission as “massively successful”, stating that her members thought they had found evidence near several coral islands in an area called “rarifótica,” or “zona de penumbra,” between 130 and 300 meters away. depth.
“The rarphytic area has been shown in several articles in the Atlantic and the Caribbean, but it has never been shown before in the Indian Ocean,” Woodall said, adding that it would take months of analysis to confirm this discovery.
In this penumbra area barely illuminated by the sun, photosynthesis is no longer possible and species that can not move to the surface of the ocean depend on the particles that fall from above to feed.
Woodall also said she was excited to see “vibrant” fish communities during the mission.
“We see schools of small fish, half of the food chain, but we also see many big predators, sharks and all the other fish predators that are there, which shows that protection works,” he said.
The expedition is over, the long work of analysis begins. The researchers completed more than 300 implementations, collected approximately 1,300 samples and 20 terabytes of data and examined approximately 30 square kilometers of seabed using a high resolution multi-beam sonar.
Woodall said his team would need up to 18 months of laboratory work to process and make sense of the data collected during the expedition.
The data will be used to help Seychelles extend its protection policy for almost a third of its national waters by 2020. This initiative is important for the country’s “blue economy,” which aims to balance the country’s needs. Development with those of the environment.
On Sunday, President Danny Faure visited the Nekton team and broadcast a live message from the depths of the ocean surface, calling for greater protection of the “blue heart that beats on our planet.”
For Oliver Steeds, director of the Nekton mission, Faure’s visit was a victory for the ocean.
“I hope our ability to broadcast live from the ocean has helped the oceans reappear on the map in boardrooms, hallways and classrooms,” Steeds said. “This is where decisions must be made to fundamentally secure our future and improve the management and conservation of our oceans.”
The members of the mission hope that the countries of the Indian Ocean have the political will to improve the management and conservation of their waters.
“It’s an incredible aquatic adventure,” Steeds said. “We are delighted that so many people around the world are watching our progress, but it is very important that Seychelles can continue to play a leading role on the world stage as a symbol of hope for ocean conservation.”
This is the first of half a dozen areas that the mission plans to explore before the end of 2022, when scientists will present their research at a summit on the Indian Ocean state.
Source: Global News