First Descent: Midnight Zone is a joint mission with the Governments of Seychelles and the Maldives to develop regional scientific and ocean governance cooperation to research and protect a series of key seamounts and inform the protection and management of 630,000km2 of ocean.

The mission has been announced in a Seychelles-Maldives joint statement and will go ahead when the situation allows.

  • Scientists to dive into the Midnight Zone (ABC News),
  • Exploring the Indian Ocean’s Midnight Zone (Washington Post),
  • Midnight Zone mission to study the effects of climate change on deep seamarine life (Daily Mail)

“The ocean is a key part of each Maldivian. 71% rely on the ocean for their primary source of income. We have committed to a 5-year initiative to advance ocean protection and sustainably develop the blue economy. This Mission will help us establish the long-term sustainability of our economic growth, livelihoods and jobs through establishing marine protected areas to build ocean resilience”
His Excellency, President Ibrahim Mohamid Solih of Maldives.

The Objectives

  • Applied Research: To contribute to establishing a baseline of marine life and the state of the ocean in Seychelles, the Maldives and the High Seas of the central Indian Ocean.
  • Ocean Governance: To support the sustainable governance of the Seychelles and Maldivian ocean including the protection of 629,000 km2. The Mission will undertake research to gather critical data to define conservation and management priorities and the designation of Marine Protected Areas.
  • Public Engagement: To inspire and engage Seychelles, Maldivian, Indian Ocean and international audiences with the scientific exploration of Seychelles and the Maldives’ unknown deep ocean and promote the Seychelles and the Maldives as a beacon of leadership in ocean conservation, management and the sustainable blue economy.
  • Knowledge sharing: To support the development of the leadership, tools, skills, knowledge and networks within Seychelles and the Maldives to empower long-term sustainable ocean governance.

The Aquanaut Programme

Scientists from Seychelles and the Maldives will undertake First Descents in the mission's two person's submersible, Limiting Factor.