About the Mission
First Descent is a series of expeditions combining innovations in technology, AI, big data and communications, in a bold bid to accelerate the scientific exploration and conservation of the Indian Ocean, the world’s least explored and least protected ocean.
How the Indian Ocean changes in the coming decades will profoundly affect the lives, livelihoods and wellbeing of the 2.5billion people living in the region.
First Descent begins in the Seychelles and continues with other expeditions across the Indian Ocean. First Descent: Indian Ocean concludes with a State of the Indian Ocean Summit in 2022 in Oxford.
Expedition 1: Seychelles: March 2019 - October 2020
Working with and on behalf of the Seychelles Government and Seychelles partners, First Descent uniquely combines scientific research, capacity development, ocean management and governance initiatives with public engagement and ocean literacy activities to achieve the greatest coordinated impact.
To undertake at least 50 first descents to generate critical data, develop local research expertise and gain public support to underpin Seychelles’ commitment to protect 30% of their national waters by 2020.
Very little research has been undertaken beneath 30metres (scuba depth) across Seychelles’ vast ocean territory of 1.37 million km2. The objective is to contribute to establishing a baseline of marine life and the state of the ocean in Seychelles. Research is focused from the surface into the Bathyal Zone (200m to 3000m), home to the greatest patterns of biodiversity and impact of human activities on these vital ecosystems.
New artificial intelligence programmes are being developed by Nekton and the University of Oxford to accelerate analysis and publication. The data will be dynamically harmonised through OCTOPUS – the new global ocean data portal, developed by Nekton and the University of Oxford – to provide a holistic and dynamic view of the changing state of the Indian Ocean, its biodiversity and human impacts.
Capacity Development and Ocean Governance:
Working for and on behalf of Seychelles we are co-creating a programme of opportunities for local marine scientists to participate in all aspects of the expedition, from research design to concluding outputs, to support the development of leadership, tools, skills, knowledge and networks within Seychelles to empower long-term sustainable ocean governance. Together with new expedition datasets and research findings this enables us to support Seychelles in successful implementation of its Marine Spatial Plan, including protection of 30% of its national waters, in support of a sustainable Blue Economy.
First Descent is a unique collaboration of over 40 leading organisations combining marine research, subsea technology, media and civil society. It is one of the most ambitious non-governmental marine expeditions ever mounted. First Descent is led by Mission Partners Omega and Kensington Tours.
Supported by a dozen subsea technology companies, led by Teledyne Marine, First Descent deploys a raft of new cutting-edge research, sampling, survey and video technologies from our state-of-the-art submersibles and remotely operated vehicles.
New technologies include 15 different camera systems that will enable scientists to create the first 3D maps of newly discovered deep sea ecosystems along with 15 different research tools to empower multi-disciplinary research across marine biology, chemistry and physical oceanography.
World firsts in communications
New subsea communications technology has been developed to enable live broadcasting from the submersibles as we undertake a series of first descents into previously unexplored parts of the deep ocean, our planet’s last great unknown frontier.
First Descent is distributed live by Associated Press along with a series of live subsea programmes produced by Sky News and Sky Atlantic as part of Sky Ocean Rescue. The images are broadcast around the world powered by ground-breaking technological innovations by Nekton’s satellite communications partner Inmarsat and subsea technology partner Teledyne Marine.