Lead Investigator and other key participant (s):

  1. Dr. Oliver Steeds , Nekton Oxford Deep Ocean Research Institute, Begbroke Science Park, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX5 1PF, United Kingdom
  2. Prof. Alex Rogers , Science Director, University of Oxford

Period of Project: May, 2018 to November, 2021

Brief description of the Project:

The Nekton Indian Ocean Mission is a major global scientific collaboration that aims to create a step change in our knowledge of the Indian Ocean and catalyse its sustainable governance.

The Mission consists of six research cruises in six distinct regions of the Indian Ocean from West (Mozambique Channel and Seychelles), to Central (Chagos and Maldives) and East (Andaman and Sumatra). The Mission combines four major activities – scientific research, capacity development, advancement of policy and public engagement - to deliver the greatest coordinated impact.

The Mission will conclude with a State of the Indian Ocean Summit in November 2021. The objectives are:

  • Scientific Research: To create a step change in our knowledge and understanding of the Indian Ocean with the first baseline of its deep-sea marine life and impacts of human activity.
  • Capacity Development: To develop a legacy of human capacity in marine science, conservation and ocean management across the Indian Ocean.
  • Catalyse Policy: To enable the designation of newly protected areas of the Indian Ocean and improved Indian Ocean management.
  • Public Engagement & Education: To inspire local and global audiences with greater ocean awareness giving decision makers a greater public mandate to act.

The Mission will be delivered with the Nekton Alliance –local, regional and international partners combining marine science, technology, conservation, education and media and collaborating with a shared and common purpose to explore and accelerate the sustainable governance of the Indian Ocean.

Region of study

The Mission will undertake scientific research supported by integrated capacity development, ocean governance and public engagement and education initiatives across key locations spanning the central Indian Ocean from the west to the east. Emphasis will be on understanding the distribution of biodiversity from the surface to 3000m depth and its environmental drivers. Six main locations – two in each region of the Indian Ocean – have been identified to undertake collaborative research. The proposed operational dates have been selected for projected optimal weather patterns and could be subject to change depending on partner requirements and availability of ship assets.

Location Port – mob/demob

Suggested Date / Year

Operational days
(incl. mob/demob)

Estimate distance (Nm)

Chagos Male October to December, 2018 45 926
Maldives Male October to December, 2018 45 473
Seychelles Victoria March to May, 2019 45 622
Mozambique Channel Victoria April to May, 2019 45 1710
Andaman & Nicobar Phuket May to July, 2020 45 1229
Sumatra Phuket May to July, 2020 45 1756