Researchers propose Maluku deep-sea mission

By Fidelis E. Satriastanti - Jakarta Globe

Following a successful collaboration in the deep seas of North Sulawesi, Indonesian and United States marine scientists are considering a similar joint project in Maluku, an official said on Friday.

Last year, under a bilateral cooperation on marine sciences, the Indonesian Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) and the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) conducted a 32-day, deep-sea research mission near the Sangihe and Talaud islands in North Sulawesi .

The survey, which was designed to explore the wealth of biodiversity in Indonesia’s oceans, involved at least 30 Indonesian scientists.

The team collected 79 marine species and discovered a deep-sea volcano using NOAA’s Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle [ROV], a robot that has the ability to capture and send real-time images from a depth of 6,000 meters.

“After Sangihe and Talaud, the scientists recommended Halmahera [in Maluku] because it is considered a good area for research,” said Ridwan Djamaluddin, chairman for development of natural resources technology at BPPT.

“We are still assessing it,” he added. “We want to make sure the research is relevant.”

Ridwan said they were still trying to ascertain whether the 79 species found in North Sulawesi were new species, adding that he expected the work to be completed by March.

BPPT chief Marzan A. Iskanda said Indonesia could not have done the research by itself given the technology needed for deep-sea surveys.