Big Results Without Big Ships: Pemba Channel Fieldwork

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Ocean Science in Action - Oceans of the future

10. Welcome aboard! Become an oceanographer for a day

10.1 Big Results Without Big Ships: Pemba Channel Fieldwork

Video duration - 07:44

In this lecture we will take you to the shores of the Pemba Channel, where our teams have conducted fieldwork using marine gliders and a more traditional biogeochemical survey onboard a small research vessel, the RV Angra Pequena.

The Pemba Channel is a dynamic coastal channel separating the island of Pemba from the Tanzanian mainland. The Channel is approximately 40 km wide and 70 km long, running from north to south and almost 900 m deep at its deepest point. A branch of the powerful East African Coastal Current flows through this narrow passageway, reaching speeds of up to 7 km per hour. Its steep, rugged bathymetry and the fast current can create dangerous conditions for fishing boats, and make this a challenging environment to study. However, the unique dynamics of the Pemba Channel sustain healthy fisheries, which suggests this energetic environment provides a mechanism for high levels of nutrients that are trapped in deep water to be upwelled to the ocean surface, where there is sufficient light for phytoplankton to grow. This presents the question of whether the relatively deep nature of the Pemba Channel may support an ecosystem more resilient to climate change, than shallow nearby channels and coastal systems such as the Zanzibar and Mafia channels?

Dr S. Painter, Dr M. Palmeri - NOC

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