3 Reef 1

Read the full report here: Chagos Expedition Report_reef trip 1_March 2020

The Bertarelli Programme for Marine Science (BPMS) Reef Expedition 1 in 2020 ran from March 12th to March 25th, but was severely impacted by the changing global travel constraints caused by the Covid-19 virus pandemic. The decision to go ahead with the expedition in the first place was not without its challenges, but at the time of the “go, no-go” decision, no travel restrictions to the region were being imposed by the relevant Institutions (except Stanford), and in the UK the FCO were not advising against travel to the Indian Ocean region. On top of this there was a very strong desire by all team members and the project PIs to try to make the Expedition happen (not least because of the importance of the Year 3 data to many projects and aligned PhD research). Our working worst case scenario was that we might achieve about 11 days of fieldwork before having to return on the next DG-Bahrain flight (on 26th March). This would have allowed most of our core activities to be achieved. The expedition participants came from Exeter University (UK), Lancaster University (UK), University of Oxford (UK), Australian Institute of Marine Science, and Stanford University (USA).

 

The team flew into DG via Bahrain to join the Grampian Frontier on Thurs 12th March. After a day of equipment loading from Moody Brook the team transited overnight to Egmont to start our surveys there early on the 14th of March. Following 2 days at Egmont we moved to Eagle (for half a day of work for part of the team) and then immediately moved to The Brothers on the Great Chagos Bank. At this stage the team were working extremely efficiently and all core survey work was being completed. With a close eye on the rapidly evolving Covid-19 situation the team decided to press ahead with a view to completing as much work as possible before returning to DG to take the first available flight from DG to Bahrain (this flight would have been on Thursday 26th March – our earliest possible departure date). This would have facilitated about 11-12 days of fieldwork and whilst inevitably restricting field activity would have allowed time for most core work to be undertaken.