The Sangihe Talaud region of Indonesia is one of the most biologically diverse areas of the world's oceans. That ecosystem will be better understood because of a scientific maritime expedition conducted jointly by the United States and Indonesia.
The Indonesia-USA Deep-Sea Exploration of the Sangihe Talaud Region or INDEX 2010 was launched on June 23rd and was successfully concluded on August 8th. It is the first-ever U.S.-Indonesia joint ocean expedition and partners the Okeanos Explorer, a research vessel of the United States Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with the Baruna Jaya IV, a vessel operated by Indonesia's Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries.
Their mission was to explore the waters of the Sangihe and Talaud island chains stretching north of Sulawesi toward the Philippines. Both U.S. and Indonesian scientists were aboard the Baruna Jaya IV. Some U.S. and Indonesia personnel were aboard the Okeanos Explorer, but most worked from land-based command centers linked by telecommunications that permitted these scientists to virtually join the expedition in real time.
This "telepresence" technology made possible the first-ever transmission of live images and other data to participating scientists in Indonesia and the United States. The Okeanos Explorer mapped the deep ocean floor and water column of the region, collected oceanographic data and high-definition video using a remotely operated vehicle. The Baruna Jaya IV mapped the seafloor in different locations and also collected biological and organic samples.
Around the world, seafloor video has been made available to scientists. A comprehensive education module has been designed to share the exploration in U.S. and Indonesian classrooms.
The expedition is a centerpiece of a broad scientific and technical partnership between the U.S. and Indonesia under the environment and climate change component of the U.S.-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership that Presidents Obama and Yudhyono announced on June 27 during their bilateral meeting at the G-20 in Toronto. Both are important contributors to the Coral Triangle Initiative, helping to ensure long-term food security and protect the region's rich biological resources. Both nations also share concerns about worldwide illegal fishing and threats to endangered species and climate change. Both countries are also members of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), an United Nations organization currently celebrating 50 years of promoting international collaboration in ocean science and observations.
"The U.S. and the Republic of Indonesia have partnered to explore the mysteries of the deep sea and to share the understanding of discovery with schoolchildren in both countries," said Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere. "Understanding what lies beneath the waves enables good stewardship. And healthy oceans enable strong citizens and strong economies."