There are at least 220 species of coral on the reefs of the Chagos, including the Chagos brain coral (Ctenella chagius), a species which is probably endemic to these waters. Corals not only created the tiny atoll islands of the archipelago but thick stands of branching species continue to protect them from waves and storm damage.
Sharks & Rays
The Chagos supports a diverse array of sharks and rays from the coastal reef sharks to pelagic species such as the Shortfin Mako, Blue and Oceanic Whitetip sharks which patrol the open-waters. The Chagos is also home to reef manta rays and whale sharks.
Prior to the MPAs establishment, tuna were commercially fished in the area. The main species targeted were the yellowfin, bigeye and skipjack tunas but a number of other species are also known to inhabit the rich Chagos waters including albacore tuna, dogtooth tuna and various species of mackerel.
ZSL’s Heather Koldewey manages the Chagos project overall, with Matthew Gollock leading on the pelagic fish studies and co-ordination from Kirsty Richards.
David Curnick is a PhD researcher at ZSL and University College London investigating the role of large marine protected areas as a conservation strategy for pelagic tunas and sharks.
Audrey Blancart, Kirsty Richards and Rudy Pothin are co-ordinating the community outreach programme.
Partners and sponsors
Chagos Environment Network; Marine Resources Assessment Group; University of Bangor; Chagos Conservation Trust; University of Warwick; University of Western Australia, Bertarelli Foundation, University College London,
Kindly funded by: PEW Charitable Trusts; Darwin Initiative - Overseas Territories Challenge Fund; PEW Environment Group; Defra; FCO; Waterloo Foundation; Blue Marine Foundation; Bertarelli Foundation; University College London; Rufford Small Grants Foundation.
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