MISSION ATLANTIC's South Mid-Atlantic Ridge (SOMAR) Case Study team, from USP and UFSC, Brazil is currently packing their bags for an expedition to St Helena Island!
One of three oceanic islands in the area, Saint Helena measures about 16 by 8 kilometers, has a population of about 5,000 people, and is known for being the site of Napoleon's second exile in 1815.
Arriving on 21st January the team has a tight 10-day sampling schedule. Snorkeling and using scuba, they will sample the shallow water (0-30 meters water depth) and measure reef fish abundance, biomass, functional diversity, benthic cover as well as fish stomach contents for dietary analysis and tissue samples for genetic analyses of connectivity.
The team will use the samples to ground truth the ecosystem risk analysis and Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) that has been carried out at SOMAR. They'll then carry out ecological and biogeographical comparisons with other oceanic islands in the Atlantic to gain a better understanding of the evolution and connectivity of the reef biota of the central Atlantic islands (St Helena, Ascension, and St Paul's Rocks), as well as potential threats and risks for its marine life.
An extremely important part of the expedition is a series of workshops and meetings with island stakeholders. Several community lectures, combined with happy hour, are planned as well as 'snorkeling, searching and talking' sessions. The information gathered at these sessions will be used to validate the previously assessed data on ecosystem risk analysis.
The team will be sending news and photos during the trip so stay tuned for more information!