A new project led by IUCN will unveil the mysteries of southern Indian Ocean seamounts and help improve conservation and management of resources.
Two research expeditions will survey seamounts, underwater mountains of volcanic origin that are hotspots of marine biodiversity. The aim is to determine priority areas for the establishment of future marine Protected Areas, and improve the management and conservation of the fragile species and ecosystems on oceans.
Onboard the Norwegian research vessel Dr Fridtjof Nansen, a team of the world’s leading experts from the UK, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, South Africa, Madagascar, Norway and France will study the ecosystems around the seamounts.
“It is critical that we get more information on the impact of climate change on these deep-water species, in order to help set up protective measures. Deep-sea species are particularly vulnerable to climate change” Dr Alex David Rogers, Principal Scientist and Marine Biologist at the Zoological Society of London.
Starting its voyage on November 11, 2009 at Reunion island, the vessel will sail southwest to the Indian Ocean Ridge to study five seamounts located between 32° 00’ S and 41° 00’ S, and end its journey forty days later, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The second cruise, tentatively scheduled with the UK vessel RSS James Cook, will follow the same route, at the end of 2011.
“The momentum for improved regional and international cooperation in managing the high seas resources is really building, and it is extraordinary to be able to stimulate this process with new data” says Sarah Gotheil, from IUCN Global Marine Programme.
Leaving from La Reunion has a special significance for Sarah as she was there last July attending the European Union Overseas Entities Conferences on Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss which resulted in the message de la Reunion http://reunion2008.eu/pages/en/en-home.html. With climate change continuing apace the European Overseas Entities and their biodiversity are at great risk. The IUCN Regional Office for Europe will move forward with the message next year and would be glad to see other European countries supporting this conservation effort with us
To follow Sarah on her trip check out her blog on