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Danny Faure (left) was speaking from a manned submersible off the coast of the island nation. Photograph: AP

Seychelles: President issues underwater plea to protect oceans

Danny Faure gives speech from submersible 120 metres below surface of Indian Ocean

The president of the Seychelles has made a plea for stronger protection of the “beating blue heart of our planet”, in a speech delivered from deep below the ocean’s surface.

Danny Faure’s call for action, billed as the first live speech from a submersible, came during a visit to an ambitious British-led science expedition exploring the Indian Ocean depths.

“Oceans cover over two-thirds of the world’s surface but remain, for the most part, uncharted. We have better maps of Mars than we do of the ocean floor,” Faure said. “This issue is bigger than all of us, and we cannot wait for the next generation to solve it. We are running out of excuses to not take action, and running out of time.”

The president was speaking from a manned submersible 120 metres (400ft) below the waves, on the seabed off the outer islands of the African nation.

Wearing a Seychelles T-shirt and shorts, Faure said after his speech that the experience was “so, so cool”. It had made him more determined than ever to speak out for marine protection, he said. “We just need to do what needs to be done. The scientists have spoken.”

The oceans’ role in regulating the climate and the threats they face are underestimated by many, even though, as Faure pointed out, they generate “half of the oxygen we breathe”. Scientific missions are crucial in taking stock of underwater ecosystems’ health.

Small island nations are among the most vulnerable to rising sea levels caused by climate change. Land erosion, dying coral reefs and the increased frequency of extreme weather events threaten their existence.

During the expedition, marine scientists from the University of Oxford have surveyed underwater life, mapped large areas of the sea floor and explored the depths with manned submersibles and underwater drones.

Little is known about the oceans below depths of 30 metres, the limit to which a normal scuba diver can go. Operating down to 500 metres, the scientists were the first to explore areas of great diversity where sunlight weakens and the deep ocean begins.

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