In the beginning of the last week of the survey the mapping of the bottom habitat at Almirante Leite Bank revealed a huge surprise. Unexpectedly, the “bank” turned out to be a huge underwater volcano consisting of numerous craters rising from 1100 m depth to about 80 m below sea level. The seabed was unfortunately too rocky and rough to trawl, but we hope to come back next year and do more thorough investigations on this very interesting site.
The last 3 days of the survey was not as fruitful as expected since a storm prevented us from doing the planned scientific work. Nevertheless, the atmosphere on board was good, and a TV team that came onboard on the 16th December managed to capture some of the most important aspects of our daily work.
This is the last report from our survey, and is a great opportunity to briefly sum up some of our observations. Among these are biomass estimates of most commercial marine shrimp and fish stocks off Mozambique. Oceanographic observations of the marine environment including the strong Mozambique current following the shelf, the coastal compensation current and the tidal current and the effect of these on local turbulence and primary production. 62 grab stations from the whole coast are expected to reveal a number of new invertebrate species, many which may act as indicator species in future investigations. And not to forget, a whole new insight into the fish biodiversity within the region. The fish fauna of the Western Indian Ocean is poorly known, but we do know that it is highly diverse, with over 2000 species on the continental shelf and upper slope region. This survey has revealed several rare species including three species of giant stingrays with a disk width of 2 to 3 meters and weighing 200 to 300 kg. All together probably around 60 new records for the Mozambique fish fauna and at least three undescribed (new) species for the world.
On the behalf of the crew and scientists onboard “Dr Fridtjof Nansen”,