Scientists probe Ascension Island’s underwater mysteries

An octopus peers out from its hiding place off Ascension. Picture: Shallow Marine Surveys Group

A diving expedition has yielded hundreds of pictures of Ascension Island as few people ever see it – as well as species not found there before.

They show an underwater spectacle that contrasts sharply with the island’s harsh volcanic shores. Some of the most striking pictures can be found in the Galleries section of St Helena Online (see link below).

fish swim over pink coral
The Great Wetropolis: Ascension’s teeming sea life city

The island’s waters were explored in August and September 2012 by the Shallow Marine Surveys Group, set up by Falklands-based scientists to research island waters in the South Atlantic and Southern Ocean.

They were helped by Stedson Stroud and his staff at Ascension Island Conservation, and island divers Drew Avery and Caz Yon.

Similar research on St Helena is expected. The island has a number of fish about which little is known, including its endangered wrasse and dragonet species. 

Expedition members set up a laboratory in the conservation offices – then scoured the island for containers in which to carry sea water to top up tanks each day. They even hunted through rubbish tips.

A leading academic journal for marine biologists is to devote an entire edition to the Ascension expedition.

Earlier in 2012 the group carried out a similar survey around the ice-covered British island of South Georgia – the most extensive in 87 years.

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Expedition blog

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