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Rarotonga to Aitutaki seabed under exploration

Thursday 9 November 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Environment, National


Rarotonga to Aitutaki seabed under exploration
Ocean Minerals and Moana Minerals chief executive Hans Smit at the Avatiu Harbour in front of the Anu Anua Moana on Wednesday. PHOTO: JOANNE HOLDEN/23110807

Cook Islands Seabed Minerals Authority team and the Moana Minerals team are off on another seabed minerals expedition, and this time it is between the waters of Aitutaki and Rarotonga.

Seabed Minerals Commissioner Alex Herman told Cook Islands News yesterday the team will embark on a Cook Islands led research expedition called ARTOX2023 on board the Anu Anua Moana.

“It is a short expedition between Rarotonga and Aitutaki, this is a milestone because now Cook Islands have started to lead independent expeditions themselves.”
Herman said this was a proud moment for the Cook Islands as the nation has started to handle expeditions.

“We have all this other data that is coming in from other sources, other research institutions, companies, but this is one that we are doing ourselves.”
She said that over the next two days, the vessel will deploy a remotely operated vehicle that can dive 5 kilometres below sea level and capture video images to see what is out there.

“And they will also collect biological samples because we are trying to get a better understanding of the marine life that exists.

“Exciting times for us and I can’t wait to see the data from that expedition to come out, and when it does come out we will release it publicly so more people can see all the information under the expedition programme,” she said.

Two visiting marine biology experts from the United Kingdom have joined the expedition. 

Also traveling are Fisheries staff, an observer and SBMA team who get off in Aitutaki, along with biologists and geologists. 

The expedition is expected to end on December 8.