Protect our oceans, urges Seychelles leader during deep dive
The president of the Seychelles has made a plea for stronger protection for the world’s oceans, in a speech delivered from deep below the surface.
Danny Faure joined researchers from a British-led scientific charity, who have been using submersibles to dive deep below the waves to document the health of the Indian Ocean.
Mr Faure said: “This issue is bigger than all of us, and we cannot wait for the next generation to solve it. We are running out of excuses to not take action, and running out of time.”
The Nekton team has been exploring the depths of the ocean for more than a month.
Nekton hailed Mr Faure’s broadcast as a “world first”.
The president said after his speech that the experience was “so, so cool. What biodiversity”.
It made him more determined than ever to speak out for marine protection, he said.
“We just need to do what needs to be done. The scientists have spoken.”
The oceans’ role in regulating climate and the threats they face are underestimated by many, even though as Mr Faure pointed out they generate “half of the oxygen we breathe”. Scientific missions are crucial in taking stock of underwater ecosystems’ health.
Small island nations are among the most vulnerable to sea level rise caused by climate change. Land erosion, dying coral reefs and the increased frequency of extreme weather events threaten their existence.
During the expedition, the marine scientists from the University of Oxford have surveyed underwater life, mapped large areas of the sea floor and gone deep with manned submersibles and underwater drones.
Little is known about the watery world below depths of 30 metres, the limit to which a normal scuba diver can go. Operating down to 500 metres, the scientists were the first to explore areas of great diversity where sunlight weakens and the deep ocean begins.
By the end of the mission, researchers expect to have conducted over 300 deployments, collected around 1,400 samples and 16 terabytes of data and surveyed about 25,000 square metres (269,100 sq feet) of seabed using high-resolution multi-beam sonar equipment.
The data will be used to help the Seychelles expand its policy of protecting almost a third of its national waters by 2020. The initiative is important for the country’s “blue economy,” an attempt to balance development needs with those of the environment.
“From this depth, I can see the incredible wildlife that needs our protection, and the consequences of damaging this huge ecosystem that has existed for millennia,” Mr Faure said in his speech.
“Over the years, we have created these problems. We can solve them.”