Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Chagos 3.0 - Day 10: Last-Minute Mantas

After 10 busy days we are reluctantly leaving Chagos, heading to Blenheim Reef and Speaker’s Bank in the north-west on our way out of the archipelago. It’s an early start for our last day. At 4:30am I’m filling tanks, and we already have one of our final round of receiver deployments out of the way before the sun rises. Chagos treats us to one last spectacular sunrise: an orange ball floats above Ile de Passe at Salomon Atoll as we drift at the lagoon entrance while our dive team deploy the temperature and dissolved oxygen loggers used to monitor water conditions around our acoustic receiver network.

As we prepare to leave Salomon we have one last surprise. Manta rays are feeding at the surface around the boat, and eagle-eyed captain guides the tender into position allowing us to get one last satellite tag attached. Every piece of data counts, and this tag will be a valuable addition to the information this expedition can provide.

This has been a fantastic trip, and yet again the teamwork between our group of six scientists (and diving doctor) and the ship’s crew has been the key to its success. The Chagos acoustic array now comprises 63 acoustic receivers, and we have tagged over 160 animals since the project’s start in 2013. Our two VR4 Globals have been successfully repaired and we have two of last year’s sharks already ‘talking’ to us as they swim by.

As we leave Speaker’s Bank, we say goodbye to Chagos for another year.

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