The EAF-Nansen crew steamed out of Cape Town, South Africa, aboard the R/V Dr. Fridtjof Nansen almost three weeks ago to explore the depths and life of the Walvis Ridge off the coast of Namibia. As part of the crew, I’m here to assess the vulnerability of the marine ecosystems and the presence of non-target animals such as coral, sponges, and of course sharks!
One of the areas we sampled was a complex of seamounts called Wüst (pronounced Wuest). We mapped the seamounts, studied below with the CAMPOD from all different directions, and sampled the complex with two trawls. Wust was a beautiful and interesting area. The campod dives showed us beautiful underwater landscapes like something out of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Not a lot of sharks though.
The crew, including researchers from South East Atlantic Fisheries Organization (SEAFO), the FAO, and the R/V Nansen, is investigating the areas to see if they are vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) or if they can support sustainable fishing pressure. Fishing occurs in the area, but we have almost no information on the bycatch in some of these places. Since the bycatch are indicator species of the marine ecosystem vulnerability of the areas, learning more about them will improve the assessments.