Indian Ocean science mission recovers key underwater drone

A British-led marine scientific mission off the Seychelles has succeeded in retrieving a key underwater drone from the sea bed, where it had fallen after its cable was cut two days ago.

The camera-carrying drone is a vital piece of equipment for the Nekton Mission scientists as they explore the Indian Ocean depths.

Two earlier recovery attempts failed.

Pilot Jimmy Boesen called the success a welcome relief after two sleepless nights: “The mission is 50% not done if we didn’t get it done. So it’s a good one.”

The loss of the remotely operated vehicle, capable of reaching a depth of 1,640 feet, had caused scientific data collection to stop while efforts focused on its retrieval.

The mission is on an unprecedented exploration of the Indian Ocean to document changes taking place beneath the waves that could affect billions of people in the surrounding region over the coming decades.

Mission director Oliver Steeds was relieved that the mission could now continue after the retrieval efforts had battled strong currents.

The mission has faced a number of mishaps: Bad weather forced a change of course. Fierce underwater currents have buffeted the submersibles, aborting dives.

The scientists on board the Ocean Zephyr now hope their luck has changed and that their mission to document the world’s least-explored ocean can kick into top gear.

The seven-week expedition is expected to run until April 19.

- Press Association

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