A team of scientists have conducted marine biodiversity research around the Island of St Helena with a team of UK based and St Helenian scientists.
The research team have spent four days surveying and sampling around the South Atlantic island of St Helena before investigating the Sysoev (Bagration) and Bonaparte seamounts – underwater seafloor mountains. The marine biodiversity research is funded by the British Antarctic Survey’s Overseas Development Assistance Programme (UK-ODA) and the UK Government through the Blue Belt Programme.
In order to create a high-resolution map of the seafloor during daylight hours, the team used a multi-beam echosounder. They also collected information on the temperature and composition of the sea water, with this being obtained by using a CTD rosette deployed over the side of the ship into the sea to depths of 1000m. They also used a small trawl to sample the biodiversity on the seafloor.
During the night, the scientists mainly sampled the biodiversity of the area using a range of nets cast up to 1000m in depth. Using the maps created from the sonar surveys, the researchers targeted a specific region to sample marine life on the seafloor.
What was the aim of the research?
The marine biodiversity research is working to pull together a complete marine science programme, focusing on the biology of:
- The coastal waters; and
- Sea mounts.
British Antarctic Survey’s Dr Simon Morley, an ecophysiologist and Principal British Antarctic Survey Scientist on the project says: “During this part of the cruise, we successfully mapped the seafloor around St Helena and sampled over 200 species of fish and invertebrates, which we think will include some species new to science.
“Completing this cruise is an important milestone in the three-year project, which aims to provide the necessary information to help Tristan da Cunha and St Helena manage their marine ecosystem resources into the future.”