Bibby HydroMap surveyor completes First Descent: Indian Ocean research expedition

Posted 11 June 2019

Back in January Bibby HydroMap announced that we were providing survey support to Nekton Deep Ocean Research Institute for their Seychelles Expedition in March 2019.

The Indian Ocean Mission is apart of a major global scientific collaboration that aims to create a step-change in our knowledge of the Indian Ocean and catalyse its sustainable governance. Bibby HydroMap were happy to send Mike Pownall, Hydrographic Surveyor, in a specialist capacity, to take part in this amazing scientific discovery opportunity to help make a difference, specifically undertaking bathymetric surveys during the expedition. 

We are super excited that Mike has been part of this mission and has successfully completed the bathymetric surveys for this expedition.

The purpose of the expedition is to explore Seychelles' deep waters to study ocean health and marine biodiversity. The Seychelles covers an exclusive economic zone of 1.4 million square kilometres. The expedition is expected to be carried out in specific areas within the plateaus of designated outer islands with depths of 500 metres.

The Mission:

Started in March 2019 and continued for 7 weeks, there were 13 scientists on board

  • 2.5 billion people live in the countries surrounding the Indian Ocean and are dependent on the health of the ocean for food and water
  • The last depth surveys around parts of Aldabra were carried out by lead line in the 1870s
  • These waters have only been seen to scuba depth of 30 metres
Image: Courtesy of Nekton

Mike's main role during the expedition was to provide high resolution MBES data for submersible and ROV dive planning and safety advise. In addition to this Mike was assisting with the general marine operations  and the USBL tracking of the submersibles.

The key goal was to survey every site where scientific activities were conducted to provide information on the bathymetry of the site. They collected reliable data from 7 sites across 6 different islands they visited from 0m to 600m, covering a total area of 27km2. This data was not only used on board, but will also be shared with the government of the Seychelles to inform the planning of marine protected areas.

It was a very special opportunity to be the first to collect information on areas never visited before and to share this information with stakeholders of the expedition – there is very little data on Seychellois waters below 30m.

"It was an extremely rewarding experience to be part of this multidisciplinary team, working towards the goal of collecting scientific information to help contribute to the future protection of the Indian Ocean."

"My other highlights of the trip included witnessing and contributing to the first underwater live broadcast, and more personally being in a submersible myself."

Mike Pownall, Bibby HydroMap Senior Hydrographic Surveyor

Image: Courtesy of Nekton

About Nekton

The Nekton Ocean Research Institute is on a mission to explore and conserve our last great wilderness - the deep ocean, our planet’s beating heart. It is our largest ecosystem and yet the least known – 95% of our seas are unexplored.  The health of our planet depends on the health of our oceans.  We rely on them for food, water, and a stable climate. Half of the oxygen we breathe comes from the oceans.

Established in Oxford in 2015, Nekton aims to bring about real, meaningful change in our knowledge and understanding of the ocean.  We undertake research missions that explore the deep ocean to speed up the governance and protection of our seas.

The Nekton Oxford Deep Ocean Research Institute (‘Nekton’) works in collaboration with the University of Oxford and is a UK charity.

All Images courtesy of Nekton