Location: British Indian Ocean
Berths: Minimum 2 berths
Duration/Timing: Jan–April 2021, however flexible
Necessary Equipment: We require a dry space (desk or table) for laptops and to charge lithium ion batteries. In addition we require storage for the drones and control station:
Three Pelicases (25 kg-57” x 21” x 12”)
One Pelicase (25 kg–30 ” x 25” x 20”
We will use novel fixed-wing, water-landing, long-range drones to survey the sharks and ray living on the shallow coral reefs in proximity the islands in the Chagos Archipelago. We wish to explore whether sharks and ray are found in elevated numbers on coral reefs adjacent to birds colonies, which are theorised to fertilise the neighbouring reefs and make them more productive.
Globally, sharks and seabirds are under considerable threats. There is therefore considerable interest in understanding how population recover and whether restoration activities may benefit both groups. Our survey will generate critical information for shark, ray and seabirds conservation, with implications for the design of marine protected areas and the prioritisation of rat eradication activities and island restoration programs. For each islands, we will produce a high-resolution map of both the adjacent coral reef and the forest.
Dr Tom Letessier has participated in over six expeditions to the British Indian Ocean Territory, two of which he lead as Chief Scientist. Tom and Melissa Schiele (ZSL PhD student and drone pilot) have participated in three expeditions together, in BIOT, Belize, and Lake Victoria, in order to deploy fixed-wing drones. Tom has done remote marine field-work for over 12 years.