Cambridge Coastal Research Unit and Khaled Bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation to assess tsunami impact on Western Indian Ocean coral reefs
An international coral reef assessment group, jointly co-ordinated by Dr Tom Spencer and Capt Phil Renaud, Executive Director of the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, and led in the field by Annelise Hagan of the Department of Geography's Coastal Research Unit, leaves for the Seychelles on 7 January to assess tsunami impacts on the coral reefs and shallow banks of the southern Seychelles (5-10 deg S).
The 3-week long expedition is a collaboration with the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, who are providing a 67 m yacht, the 'Golden Shadow', and seaplane, the 'Golden Eye', and funding HDI, Nova Scotia, Canada who will operate a Compact Airborne Spectrographic Imager (CASI) sensor to enable rapid, remote sensing of reef environments. Field diving teams will provide ground-truthing for the airborne imagery and use underwater video to map the distribution of corals and other benthic communities. 'There is almost no detailed information available about tsunami impacts on corals, seagrasses and mangroves. We need to know about these impacts and incorporate them into strategies for rebuilding these ecosystems and the communities that depend upon them' says Dr Spencer. 'We have been tracking coral reef dynamics in this area since the El Nino-related coral bleaching event of 1998 which devastated these reefs. It will be interesting to see how the reef recovery that has been taking place since that time has been impacted by this event'. Daily updates from the expedition will be posted on the website: www.livingoceansfoundation.org.