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An image taken from video issued by Nekton shows a submersible from the vessel Ocean Zephyr during a descent into the Indian Ocean off Alphonse Atoll near the Seychelles, March 12, 2019. (Nekton via AP


AP pioneers new form of live underwater broadcasting on Indian Ocean science mission

An image taken from video issued by Nekton shows a submersible from the vessel the Ocean Zephyr during a descent into the Indian Ocean off Alphonse Atoll near the Seychelles, Tuesday March 12, 2019. Members of the British-led Nekton research team boarded two submersible vessels and descended into the waters off the Seychelles on Tuesday, marking a defining moment in their mission to document changes to the Indian Ocean. The submersibles will be battling strong undersea currents and potentially challenging weather conditions as they survey the side of an undersea mountain off Alphonse Atoll. (Nekton via AP)

The Associated Press today transmitted live, broadcast-quality video from a submersible operating 200 meters below the surface of the Indian Ocean.

Using cutting edge optical technology, the footage was sent through the waves using LED light and from the surface by satellite to hundreds of broadcasters and digital publishers across the globe.

AP achieved the underwater broadcasting milestone during the first descent by an international science team participating in a UNESCO-endorsed, deep-sea research mission to unlock the secrets of a vast stretch of unexplored sea.

Sandy MacIntyre, AP vice president and director of key initiatives said:

“Getting a high-quality, wire-free video signal from the uncharted depths of the Indian Ocean, alongside a science team that is exploring exciting new frontiers was a great moment. AP has always tried to be a pioneer in live broadcasting so it’s fitting we are pushing the boundaries by harnessing this kind of technology to give viewers a glimpse into a hidden world.”

Video was transmitted from 200 meters below the surface using the blue light region of the electromagnetic spectrum, removing the need for the submersibles and the scientists within to be tethered to fiber optic cables.

The method was engineered by subsea communications specialist Sonardyne.

The only news agency working with the U.K.-led Nekton research team, AP is covering the voyage across all formats as scientists explore depths of up to 3,000 meters (9,600 feet) off the coast of the Seychelles in two-person submersibles backed up by an array of data gathering tools, including remote-controlled motion sensor cameras.

Upcoming AP video coverage will include the search for submerged mountain ranges and coral forests, as well as likely sightings of previously undiscovered marine life. The AP team will also provide a behind-the-scenes look at life on board, interviews with researchers and drone footage of the mission, along with corresponding photos and text stories.

AP’s broadcast and digital customers will be able to offer live video to their audiences around the world and may conduct live two-way interviews with the scientists and AP journalists on board the submersibles.

Nekton CEO Oliver Steeds said:

“With First Descent we want to explore the last great frontier on our planet, the deep ocean. With this amazing new optical technology we are able to broadcast what we are doing around the world to engage new audiences with our oceans. I am so thrilled that today we created not only a scientific first but a broadcasting first, too. A massive team of people came together to create a little bit of history today.”

The seven-week voyage is the first in a series of planned Nekton missions in the Indian Ocean over the next three years.

See AP’s coverage of the mission:

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