Farewell to Chagos

Tom Letessier

The Pacific Marlin has returned to dock, and the science team is now frantically disassembling and packing the equipment for freight to all corners of the world. So it is with some sadness that this is the final blog post of this expedition. And what a trip! What we have discovered in the big blue is a marine reserve that is teaming with life! Pelagic sharks, turtles, whales, dolphins, and whale sharks, just to name a few. The deep sea of Chagos has revealed some of its secrets to us, for the first time showing some rare glimpses of a rare and undisturbed abyssal habitat, with several new records of deep-sea sharks and fish. As someone trained as a krill biologist I was particularly excited about seeing what the inside of a krill swarm looks like on the dropcam!

Chagos sunset

For us scientist, to be able to come out here to Chagos and do research in one of the last areas of real marine wilderness is an amazing experience that we all hope to repeat. While we are all slightly sad to see the end of the trip this is in many ways just the beginning. Once we’ve returned to our respective institutions comes months of work to analyse video and data. Then comes presentation of results in front of our peers, followed by more analysis, and manuscript writing. And repeat from above. Field trips like this are therefore only a very small part of the time we spend doing research. That said, the camaraderie, the amazing sights, the long hours, makes it for me the most personally rewarding aspect of the job, and one of the reason I became a marine conservationist in the first place.

We thank the crew of the Pacific Marlin for their amazing support and are grateful for the help provided by the Brit Rep office in Diego Garcia. 

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