Seeing Professors kicking away at footpumps to fill inflatable boats with air in preparation for a science expedition is an entertaining way to start things off. A bit like an academics aerobics symposium in a boat warehouse. This was the illustrious start point to this year’s trip when all the planning and discussions coalesce to action on the ground – in this case researchers blowing hot air into inflatable tubes by a repetitive foot thrust to the floor. On such small beginnings rest grand ambitions and the Chagos Archipelago is a suitable hunting ground for those.
As previous voyages through the outer islands have shown through their results, the natural environment here sets benchmarks globally. Whilst clumping your foot on a wheezing canvas bellows may seem a strange way to get there it is a necessary chore in the pursuit of such exploration results here. In this remote place without making thorough preparation access to the secrets of the reefs of the outer atolls would be unattainable. So pushing your foot to the floor to pressurize an inflatable boat takes on a new significance when it means that you will be well set to cast off a mooring line in a few days time and dive on some of the healthiest reefs with the richest marine life in the world. An outcome any biologist hankers after in their happy daydreams.
The advance party setting themselves to the preparatory chores have gained a taste of the riches that await as we have managed to get out for some local data collection dives in between the various tasks on our agenda. The reef surveys in the waters here have already offered up a host of spectacular and fascinating sights. From the smallest animals, like the colourful Sexy Shrimp (Thor anoinensis), to the largest with the sighting of several silvertip sharks alongside the reef drop off.
Much more of the same is soon to come. So we will redouble our efforts to ready all the stores and equipment in anticipation of the arrival of the rest of the science expedition participants early next week. We have more boats to assemble, a laboratory to furnish, dive equipment to test and fuel and food to replenish. This beneath a tropical sky brightly lighting the beautiful turquoise waters of BIOT beneath which a treasure trove of marine environmental wealth awaits our discovery. An enchantingly tempting view to keep motivation up whilst stamping our feet down on those footpumps!
Check out the 2014 expedition crew's biographies on the Chagos Conservation Trust's website
Select a blog
Every month one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the month.
Follow the latest news on ZSL’s Arts & Culture projects at ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos, and ZSL’s conservation work through the lense of the Arts.
Get the latest on ZSL's conservation work in Asia.
Catch up on our latest Conservation Blogs
Join the ZSL Discovery and Learning team as they venture out of the zoo and in to the wild.
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's elephant keepers give an insight into the daily goings on in the elephant barn.
Read about conservation of tigers in Asia.
One man is boldly going where no other ZSL videographer has gone before - the land of Mountain Chicken Frogs.
A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo. Bringing you amazing animal facts and exclusive access to the world's scientific oldest zoo.
From the field, to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.
The Wildlife Wood Project has been working in Cameroon since 2007 to encourage better wildlife management in logging concessions.
Updates from penguin conservation expeditions to Antarctica
Amur leopard conservation blog
Meet ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's latest (and leggiest) arrival, a baby giraffe!
Follow the ZSL Biodiversity and Palm Oil team, based in Bogor, Indonesia.
The Chagos marine reserve, designated in 2010 and currently the world’s largest no take marine reserve, is a sought-after spot for marine research.
Follow ZSL’s amphibian experts in their quest to find out why 41% of the world’s amphibians are threatened and what can be done to stop more species becoming extinct.
Follow ZSL conservationists studying desert baboons in Namibia.