Residing among the whales and other diving animals of the Indian Ocean, there will soon be diving robots.

In an effort to learn more about the inner workings of this ocean, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is deploying a fleet of robots called the BioArgos. They may not be as intrinsically awe-inspiring as a blue whale, but the bots will perform the critical task of reporting on the health of an ocean that provides a habitat for many whales and other organisms as well as the livelihood of millions of people.

"Despite its importance, we know relatively little about the depths and biological health of the Indian Ocean," CSIRO project leader Nick Hardman-Mountford said in a statement

The Indian Ocean is the third-largest ocean in the world, behind the Atlantic and Pacific, and a key source of fish and other resources. Every year, the east Indian Ocean alone provides seven million tons of fish in addition to resources including oil, gas and minerals. Like all oceans, it is also a key driver of the climate in the surrounding areas, which are home to over 16 percent of the world's population.

The robots are slated to be deployed in the waters between Christmas Island and Madagascar in early July of this year. Each robot has small, specialized sensors onboard that can measure the various vital signs of the ocean, including levels of dissolved oxygen and organic matter. 

"These can tell us about the growth of plankton, how much carbon they take up, how much gets used up the food chain and how much gets buried," Hardman-Mountford said in a statement. "Knowing about this growth is important for predicting how much food the Indian Ocean can produce and how much carbon dioxide it can capture, and will give us a better idea of what keeps the Indian Ocean healthy and productive." 

To take these measurements, the robots must dive down more than a mile beneath the water's surface. Once they've got the data they need, they make their way back up to the surface so that they can transmit the information back to the researchers via satellite. This system allows researchers to monitor the state of the ocean in real-time.

Using the information from BioArgos in combination with observations from satellites, researchers at CSIRO also plan to create a three-dimensional map of the landscape deep below the Indian Ocean. No plans for robot-guided diving excursions have been announced yet.

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