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

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

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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)

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: http://apne.ws/QzFEkur

About AP

The Associated Press is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the most trusted source of independent news and information. On any given day, more than half the world's population sees news from AP. On the web: www.ap.org.

About Nekton

The mission of the Nekton Oxford Deep Ocean Research Institute (Nekton) is to explore the deep ocean to reveal the unknown for the benefit of humanity. Nekton undertakes multidisciplinary scientific research into the state of the deep ocean, the planet’s most critical yet least explored ecosystem. Nekton’s discoveries inform global decision makers and ignite public interest to catalyse change. The Nekton Oxford Deep Ocean Research Institute is a charity, established in the UK, with headquarters in Oxford.


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Lauren Easton
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The Associated Press