Oceanographic Survey of the Eastern and Central Agulhas Bank (South Africa)
This cruise is part of the large international project named Sustainable Oceans, Livelihoods and food Security Through Increased Capacity in Ecosystem research in the Western Indian Ocean (SOLSTICE-WIO, funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund). One of the three SOLSTICE case studies is to investigate the reasons for the fluctuations of squid catches on the Agulhas Bank. One of these decreases occurred in 2013 and had dramatic consequences on the local, already underprivileged population. The Agulhas Bank is surrounded by a highly productive Benguela Current to the west, and the strong and warm Agulhas Current flowing along its shelf break. It is a highly dynamic region and, despite being well known for its role as a spawning ground for many fish species, including the local "Chokka" squid (Loligo reynaudii), very little work has been done on the central and eastern Agulhas Bank. This cruise aimed to better understand the ecosystem functioning and oceanography on the bank, with a focus on upwelling cells and how these may impact productivity. Phytoplankton and zooplankton measurements have been performed at 50 stations, spread out on the eastern and central Agulhas Bank. Vertical fluxes were also investigated at inshore and offshore stations to learn about the mechanisms of benthic nepheloid layer formation, events that are often observed on the coast and may impact squid mating behaviour. During this cruise, 4 moorings and 3 gliders were also recovered. Overall the cruise was successful and managed to achieve a high level of work over a short time.
Margaux Noyon (Nelson Mandela University, Institute for Coastal and Marine Research)
Indian Ocean South East Atlantic Ocean (limit 20W)