Unveiling the secrets of Indonesia’s deep seas

Around 62 percent of the territory of Indonesia, which is strategically located between the Pacific and the Indian oceans, consists of water. The archipelagic nation has a total sea area of 6.4 million square kilometers and a shoreline spanning 108 thousand kilometers.

Despite Indonesia being the largest island country, deep-sea exploration in the country remains limited. Indonesia’s deep seas still hold secrets of marine life, diversity, and resources that are waiting to be uncovered.

According to the National Research and Innovation Agency’s acting director for ship armada management, Nugroho Dwi Hananto, at the global level, up to 80 percent of seas and oceans on the Earth are yet to be properly mapped as continued marine exploration is necessary to make more detailed mapping possible.

The acting director also said that less than 20 percent of Indonesia’s seas have been properly explored and mapped, leaving a significant information gap that necessitates continued scientific exploration and economic exploitation.

The current situation ought to motivate Indonesian researchers to conduct research to obtain information and data on unexplored sea areas that can produce new scientific discoveries, he remarked.

“The secrets of our deep sea and oceans remain sealed; and it is our duty to expose and reveal the mysteries and secrets, as well as to study the possible use of living and non-living marine resources to produce new scientific innovation,” Hananto said.

Shallow seas—seas with a depth of less than 200 meters such as the Java and Natuna seas—only constitute 30–40 percent of Indonesia’s seas, he noted.

In contrast, around 60 percent of Indonesia’s seas have a depth of more than 200 meters—the deepest point in Indonesia is located in Banda Sea, which has a depth of 7,400 meters below sea level, he said.

He highlighted that sophisticated facilities and technology, as well as scientific capability, are a necessity to conduct marine research and surveys to explore Indonesia’s marine potential in unexplored areas.

To help Indonesian researchers to explore Indonesian seas, BRIN has launched the Sailing Day program in 2022 that would provide marine researchers with research funding and facilities free of charge, he informed.

Inclusive, open access, and facilities

The Sailing Day program is intended to provide open and inclusive access to researchers, university lecturers, and university students to utilize BRIN’s research ships to obtain data and specimens necessary for marine research, BRIN head Laksana Tri Handoko said.

Handoko further said he expected that facilities provided under the Sailing Day scheme—which includes coverage of the cruise cost, onboard accommodation and meals, and technical and operational services of research equipment on board—will motivate Indonesian researchers to conduct marine expeditions and collaborate with domestic and foreign partners to bolster research.

BRIN is currently operating five research ships of which KR Baruna Jaya I is the oldest, followed by KR Baruna Jaya IIKR Baruna Jaya IIIKR Baruna Jaya IV, and KR Baruna Jaya VIII, which is the newest vessel in the armada, he informed. Each ship has its own marine research and seabed mapping equipment, he added.

KR Baruna Jaya I was constructed at the French CMN shipyard in 1989, while KR Baruna Jaya VIII was made in the Norwegian Mjellem & Karlsen shipyard in 1998, he said, adding that KR Baruna Jaya I to IV are sister ships due to their same dimensions.

KR Baruna Jaya is equipped with a mounted MBES Teledyne Hydroswept system that can create a seabed map at up to 10 thousand meters depth, while the MBES Kongsberg EM304 system on KR Baruna Jaya III can create a seabed map at 8 thousand meters depth, he informed.

Furthermore, the MBES Elac Seabeam 3050 portable system on KR Baruna Jaya II and IV can create a seabed map at a depth of 3 thousand meters, and KR Baruna Jaya VIII has a mounted MBES Reson system that can map the seabed at a depth of 500 meters, he added.


Source: Antara News