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Scientists begin exploring Indian Ocean depths in Seychelles

Published
Technicians conduct maintenance on the Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) as the British-based Nekton Mission sails to a dive site in the Seychelles on Wednesday March 6, 2019. The science expedition will explore the Indian Ocean, during which researchers hope to document changes taking place beneath the waves that could affect billions of people in the surrounding region over the coming decades. (AP Photo/David Keyton)

ALPHONSE ATOLL, Seychelles (AP) — An unprecedented mission to explore the Indian Ocean and document changes taking place beneath the waves began its research on Thursday, in Seychelles waters.

The British-led Nekton Mission arrived off the tiny atoll of Alphonse in the early morning hours, after looming bad weather forced a change of plan.

The expedition will delve into one of the last major unexplored frontiers on the planet, a vast body of water that's already feeling the effects of global warming. Understanding the Indian Ocean's ecosystem is important not just for the species that live in it, but also for an estimated 2.5 billion people living in the region, including East Africa, the Arabian peninsula, the Indian sub-continent and Southeast Asia.

Alphonse is 232 nautical miles south-west of Seychelles' capital Victoria.

Oliver Steeds, Nekton Mission Director, left, and Seychelles President Danny Faure, listen to speeches at the official launch ceremony of the Nekton mission onboard the Ocean Zephyr docked at Victoria, Seychelles, Friday March 1, 2019. (AP Photo/David Keyton)
Oliver Steeds, Nekton Mission Director introduces to Seychelles President Danny Faure the submersible technology that will be used during the Nekton mission, Seychelles, Friday March 1, 2019. After months of preparation, scientists are about to set off on a mission to explore the depths of the Indian Ocean, one of the planet's last great unexplored frontiers. Here's a look at what the Nekton Mission hopes to achieve and why the people of the Seychelles, the first stop on this three-year expedition, are excited about its launch. (AP Photo/David Keyton)
Oliver Steeds, Nekton Mission Director, left, and Seychelles President Danny Faure, listen to speeches at the official launch ceremony of the Nekton mission onboard the Ocean Zephyr docked at Victoria, Seychelles, Friday March 1, 2019. (AP Photo/David Keyton)
Oliver Steeds, Nekton Mission Director, left, and Seychelles President Danny Faure, listen to speeches at the official launch ceremony of the Nekton mission onboard the Ocean Zephyr docked at Victoria, Seychelles, Friday March 1, 2019. (AP Photo/David Keyton)
Oliver Steeds, Nekton Mission Director introduces to Seychelles President Danny Faure the submersible technology that will be used during the Nekton mission, Seychelles, Friday March 1, 2019. After months of preparation, scientists are about to set off on a mission to explore the depths of the Indian Ocean, one of the planet's last great unexplored frontiers. Here's a look at what the Nekton Mission hopes to achieve and why the people of the Seychelles, the first stop on this three-year expedition, are excited about its launch. (AP Photo/David Keyton)
Oliver Steeds, Nekton Mission Director introduces to Seychelles President Danny Faure the submersible technology that will be used during the Nekton mission, Seychelles, Friday March 1, 2019. After months of preparation, scientists are about to set off on a mission to explore the depths of the Indian Ocean, one of the planet's last great unexplored frontiers. Here's a look at what the Nekton Mission hopes to achieve and why the people of the Seychelles, the first stop on this three-year expedition, are excited about its launch. (AP Photo/David Keyton)
Technicians conduct maintenance on the Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) as the British-based Nekton Mission sails to a dive site in the Seychelles on Wednesday March 6, 2019. The science expedition will explore the Indian Ocean, during which researchers hope to document changes taking place beneath the waves that could affect billions of people in the surrounding region over the coming decades. (AP Photo/David Keyton)
Technicians conduct maintenance on the Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) as the British-based Nekton Mission sails to a dive site in the Seychelles on Wednesday March 6, 2019. The science expedition will explore the Indian Ocean, during which researchers hope to document changes taking place beneath the waves that could affect billions of people in the surrounding region over the coming decades. (AP Photo/David Keyton)