Two intrepid Maldives aquanauts have journeyed into the history books by becoming the first people from the world’s lowest-lying nation to descend deep into the twilight zone.
Marine biologist, Shafiya Naeem, director general of the Maldives Marine Research Institute, and research assistant colleague Farah Amjad were chosen as lead aquanauts on the maiden dive of the Nekton Maldives Mission.
The expedition is a joint initiative by UK-based Nekton and the Maldives government to map, sample and gather data on ocean health which can inform policy makers both in the Maldives and beyond as the climate crisis deepens. Virtually no images exist of marine life in Maldivian waters below 30 metres.
The aquanauts launched from the mission mothership RV Odyssey off Laamu Atoll and, in an impromptu gesture of national pride, raised the flag of the Maldives as the Omega Seamaster II three-person submersible rolled out on deck
They were piloted by American Kimly Do on a journey to investigate the wall of coral and marine life along the east coast of Lammu at varying depths from 60 metres , through a 120 metre deep survey to the darker depths of 250 metres. The scientists are especially interested in the interconnectivity between corals and marine species living near the surface and at greater depth.
The Maldives team admit to feeling the weight of expectation on their shoulders. Their nation is the lowest lying country on earth and is already experiencing storm surges and so-called coral bleaching events - when corals which act as natural sea defences are literally boiled to death by rising sea temperatures, sparked by global warming. Unless global carbon emissions are kept in check, swathes of this archipelago could become uninhabitable.
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SHOT LIST September 11
- Aerial shots of Laamu Atoll , Maldives, with Nekton Mission mothership RV Odyssey lying off the reef.
- Aquanauts Farah Amjad and Shafiya Naeem on deck and stepping up to board Omega Seamaster II submersible ahead of dive.
- Submersible pilot Kimly Do doing final pre-launch checks
- Aquanaut Shafiya Naeem, the director general of the Maldives Marine Research Institute and research assistant colleague Farah Amjad wave to fellow aquanauts
- Submersible rollout and raise the national flag of the Maldives as they move forward on on the deck of RV Odyssey aboard the Omega Seamaster II as it prepares to launch off Laamu Atoll,Maldives,
- Aerial of Omega Seamaster II submersible in water
- Omega Seamaster II disappears beneath the waves
- Fish in water
- Omega Seamaster II submersible descends to twilight zone at 250 metres
- Shots of coral
- Shafiya Naeem pointing
- Rock ridge
- View from sub to light above
- Omega Seamaster II submersible ascends to surface
- Recovery operation to get submersible back on deck
- Aquanauts and pilot raise national flag of Maldives and cheer
- Aerial of sub recovery
- Aquanaut Farah Amjad waves as sub rolled back onto deck
- Aquanauts emerge through hatch of Omega Seamaster II submersible after dive and step down stairs to deck of RV Odyssey
- SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) FARAH AMJAD MALDIVES AQUANAUT
- SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) SHAFIYA NAEEM, MALDIVES AQUANAUT
- Aerial shot Nekton mothership RV Odyssey lying off Laamu Atoll, Maldives
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Scientists Shafiya Naeem and Farah Amjad made history as lead aquanauts on the maiden dive of the Nekton Maldives Mission.
The team will map, sample and gather data on ocean health down to 1000 metres, as the climate crisis deepens.
Virtually no images exist of Maldivian waters below 30 metres.
Submersible pilot Kimly Do steered the Omega Seamaster II on the journey to investigate coral and marine life along the east coast of Laamu Atoll
The trio surveyed from 60 metres beneath the surface to the twilight zone at 250 metres.
The scientists are interested in examining interconnectivity between corals and species living at different depths.
FARAH AMJAD, MALDIVES AQUANAUT
SHAFIYA NAEEM,MALDIVES AQUANAUT
The aquanauts raised the Maldivian national flag in triumph as the Omega Seamaster II resurfaced.