Monday, April 11, 2016

Chagos 2016 - Day 7

Scientists from TRCC and GTOPP are at sea in the Indian Ocean with the Bertarelli Foundation's Chagos Archipelago Science Expedition 2016.  Dr Heather Koldewey, Chief Scientist of the Expedition, wrote:

Day 7 highlights – 11th April 2016,  Egmont Atoll

Turtle team
  • Two fresh hawksbill turtle tracks on Egmont Island today – these are new since the surveys yesterday.
  • Lots of turtles seen during dives.

Coral Reef Team

The reef 3D models are developing well and we are hoping to use the super- computing power of the Vava II to process some of the larger projects while we are here.
Bleaching is progressing at most of the sites and has started to affect many different species and growth forms in the shallows down to around 12 m including some of the massive Porites boulder corals.

Environmental DNA (eDNA)
  • eDNA is an exciting new monitoring technique being used for the first time in the Chagos Archipelago!
  • Fish, corals and other reef life all release small amounts of DNA into the water, which we collect from the reef at all sites surveyed.
  • These water samples are pumped through a filter, catching all the tiny DNA fragments.
  • Genetic techniques will be used to identify reef life in the Chagos Archipelago, from microbes to sharks, just from these tiny DNA fragments floating in the water.

Tagging team

5 mantas tagged today in Egmont Atoll

False killer whales
  • Identification of whales confirmed as false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) by colleagues at ZSL and Stanford.
  • The prey of this species includes a variety of large pelagic fish, including several species of tuna.
  • They are Data Deficient on IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  • Main threats are bycatch from fisheries, decline of prey species and accumulation of high levels of persistent organic pollutants. The BIOT marine reserve is therefore a valuable refuge for this species.
  • The false killer whale is a relatively poorly known species, and more research is needed.

Thanks for another busy but great day! 

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