Quest for the Limit of Life
03 April 2013
Japanese deep submergence vehicle Shinkai 6500 and the support vessel Yokosuka at Cape Town from 9-13 April.
The Japanese deep submergence vehicle Shinkai 6500 and the support vessel Yokosuka called at Cape Town from 9 to 13 April as part of their QUELLE (Quest for the Limit of Life) 2013 round-the-world voyage that began in January this year.
Shinkai 6500, owned by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), is a Human-Occupied Vehicle equipped with high technology devices and capable of diving to depths of 6 500 metres.
The two vessels are spending a year conducting deep sea research in the Indian Ocean, South Atlantic, the Caribbean Sea and the South Pacific Ocean. Shinkai 6500 will survey hydrothermal vent fields, the ultra-hadal zone of deep sea trenches and other extreme environments, where it will shed light on the habitable limits of life and its unique survival strategies.
QUELLE 2013 may answer the question of how Earth became a planet brimming with life. This significant voyage is the first in 15 years since the 1998 Mid-Oceanic Ridge Diving Expedition (MODE ’98), when Shinkai 6500 became the first manned submersible to conduct a survey of the Indian Ocean.
During the decade after the year 2000, scientists participated in the Census of Marine Life. However, deep sea zones below 2 500 metres, the open ocean away from land and the greater part of the southern hemisphere were largely unexplored.
The vessels called at Cape Town after research in the Indian Ocean and enroute to the Southern Atlantic. During their stopover, Japanese scientists will gave lectures on marine biology and oceanography to high school and university students and scientists on board the Yokosuka on 10 and 11 April.
JAMSTEC held a reception for South African government and university officials and scientists on the vessel which provided opportunities to observe Japanese high technology in marine research. It also contributed to mutual understanding and cooperation between Japan and South Africa in science, technology and oceanography.
EMBASSY OF JAPAN IN SOUTH AFRICA