Oceanographers told a press conference on September 14 that data and seabed samples collected during the initial phase of the country's first round-the-world research mission could be valuable in increasing understanding of the ocean.
"The samples and data will greatly boost research in biology and geosciences," said Wang Chunsheng, a marine biologist from the State Oceanic Administration's Second Institute of Oceanography.
Ocean No.1 is China's top marine research ship, weighing in at 5,600 tons and equipped with state-of-the-art equipment. It set off for the Pacific leg of its mission from Qingdao in east China's Shandong Province on April 2 with 30 crew members and 42 scientific researchers.
This included joint work with US scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Divers entered the US Navy's Deep Submergence Vehicle, and Chinese scientists collected deep-sea hydrothermal fluid samples, and micro and sea floor sediment samples at depths ranging from 2,200 to 4,500 meters.
They collected a large number of seabed plants, fish and other organisms that can be used in biological research, Wang said. In addition, deep-sea marine data was recorded by a 5,000-metre-long anchor system.
"The mission gives researchers their best opportunity to test China's latest self-developed marine technology and to develop a group of ocean professionals," said Wang.
Ocean No.1 reached Acapulco de Juarez in Mexico earlier this month via Hawaii before returning home.
The second phase, in the Atlantic and Indian oceans, will begin later this month, traveling from Jamaica to South Africa. The ship is due to return to Qingdao in February.
"The round-the-world mission not only realizes the long-term dream in Chinese oceanographic circles for crossing the three oceans, but will write a new and brilliant chapter in the development of China's ocean undertakings," Wang said.
Central government allocated 5 billion yuan (US$602 million) for ocean research during the 10th Five-Year Plan period (2001-05).
(China Daily September 22, 2005)