''The objects recovered were fishing equipment and flotsam,'' Andrea Hayward-Maher, a spokeswoman for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), said by phone on Sunday. It was the first time that material had been picked up.
Search activities on Sunday involve eight ships and 10 aircraft in the revised zone, the Australian agency said in an update. The HMAS Toowoomba frigate left Perth on Saturday night and should arrive at the search area in about three days while the vessel Ocean Shield is being fitted with an autonomous underwater vehicle and equipment to detect the black box recorder.
''Our primary focus at the moment is to use the aircraft to identify wreckage and have the ships move in and pick up the wreckage out of the water,'' Commodore Peter Leavy, who is coordinating the Australian military's search contribution, told reporters on Sunday. ''This is a critical step.''
Eight aircraft sighted multiple items on Saturday in a search area that covered about 252,000 square kilometres.
White, red and orange suspicious objects had been seen as the Chinese ship Jinggangshan, carrying two helicopters, joined the Haixun 01 in the search area, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Time may be running out as the battery-powered beacons that help locate the black boxes on Boeing 777 last about 30 days. The latest lead in the search was based on radar and performance data as the jet flew between the South China Sea and Malacca Strait, authorities said. It shows the jet moved faster, using more fuel, and may not have crashed as far south as estimated earlier.
Weather in the search area is forecast to worsen on Sunday with light showers and low cloud, AMSA said. All ships in the search area are being tasked to locate and identify the objects sighted by aircraft over the past two days.
The new search zone is 1,100 kilometres to the northeast of the previous area, off Australia's west coast. Investigators narrowed in on the area with an analysis assuming that Flight 370 travelled at close to constant velocity.
Aircraft from Australia, China, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan and the United States are involved in the search.