RRS James Clark Ross visited Tristan da Cunha waters 22-31 March 2018

RRS James Clark Ross Expedition Newsletter

Newsletter from team aboard RRS James Clark Ross

Photo from Tristan Administrator Sean Burns shows RRS James Clark Ross
anchored at Tristan on the final day of the ship's expedition to Tristan waters on 31st March 2018.

RRS James Clark Ross survey in Tristan da Cunha waters 22nd to 31st March

During the Tristan science workshop held at the London Foreign and Commonwealth Office in July 2017, the ecosystems and fisheries of the seamounts in Tristan waters were identified as a key priority for further scientific work. Scientists from Cefas, BAS, RSPB, SAERI, UKHO and Plymouth University recently visited Tristan seas on the RRS James Clark Ross to address some of these research gaps. This is a brief summary of what we did and why it matters for Tristan.

What we did

  • Seafloor mapping

    We produced very detailed maps of the seafloor around Yakhont and Crawford seamounts, that will help us understand the distribution of habitats and species on the seamounts.

  • Seafloor ecosystems

    We took photos of the seafloor of the two seamounts and collected some of the animals to help us understand the biodiversity and how the habitats of the seamounts might have been impacted by fishing.

  • Open water ecosystems

    We studied the pelagic animals that live over the seamounts and in deep water to help us understand the biodiversity and ecology of the seamounts and links to commercial species, such as bluenose. We also collected valuable data on the distribution of lobster larvae.

  • Samples from the fishery

    We studied the species caught as bycatch during the longline and trawl fisheries on the seamounts, to help us understand the impact of fishing on seafloor ecosystems, and the diet of the target species.

This work, together with the RRS Discovery survey in March 2019, is important to help Tristan make an informed decision about their marine protection strategy in 2020. Cefas and BAS scientists have designed this research in partnership with Tristan Government to improve understanding of the key unknowns about the Tristan marine environment. The work has been funded by the UKOT Blue Belt Programme and by an ODA Grant to BAS. If you have further questions, we will be very happy to answer them. A full cruise report will be available soon after the end of the survey on 13th April.