Trenching deep into the depths of the Maldivian ocean is two women hailing from the sandy shores and 8 other women forming part of the international science team. With an effort to discover what needs to be done to save Maldives from the growing threat of global warming and climate change, 10 women will descend to explore the deep on 4th Septhember.
Director General of Maldives Marine Research Institute, Shafiya Naeem will be leading the mission while Farah Amjad, Research Assistant to the Nekton Maldives Mission is part of the historic crew that will make the first descent. Kimly Do will be taking the controls as pilot in the ultra-modern submersible.
While talking about the mission, Shafiya Naeem stated “Our objective during our submersible dives is to discover and better understand what our waters contain, so we can protect what lives there and safeguard the environment more meaningfully. We have 40 shark and 18 ray species at the apex of the food chain in our ocean and for the first time we’ll be able to identify their relative abundance at depth- which is a critical indicator to determine ocean health”.
Set to sail on September 4th, the Nekton Maldives Mission will conduct the first ever systematic survey and sampling of the Maldives from 1000metre depths to the surface. So far, only very little is known about what lies beyond 30metre depths in the ocean floor so the brave crew is venturing into uncharted territory to discover what lurks in the deep! The mission is initiated by joint collaboration of UK Marine Research Institute, Nekton and the Government of the Maldives.
Once the vessel reaches 120m depths, the scientists hope to identify the old beach line from 20,000 years ago when sea levels soar following the ice melt from the Last Glacial Maximum. Their aim is to analyze how ocean life has adapted to rising sea level in the past.
In the global ocean over 100,00 seamounts have been located above 1000m but only 300 of them has been biologically sampled. 34 seamounts exist in the Maldives and is a popular topic among Maldivian folklore as well. Seamounts provide essential breeding nurseries for domestic fishes such as tuna.