Plymouth University spearheads marine conversation project

The Chagos project

Marine conservation is the focal point of research activities at the University of Plymouth. A forerunner in studying marine habitats, the university has dedicated 20 years to research in this domain. The center of interest is to discover sustainable ways to conserve sea and sea life.  The Chagos Archipelago is a harbor for coral reefs. Plymouth’s researchers have pivoted British Indian Ocean Territory to study the effect of climate change on coral reefs.

The Chagos Archipelago, also known as the Chagos Islands are a group of seven atolls. Chagos consists of more than 60 individual tropical islands in the Indian Ocean. It is about 500 kilometers south of the Maldives archipelago. The islands also have a 64m-hectare marine protected area which has restricted human impact and is devoid of fishing and pollution. Hence the archipelago forms an ideal setting to study corals, which have been solely affected by global warming and climatic conditions.

The programme will allegedly study underlying mechanisms that are keeping the region’s seas comparatively healthy. The study alleges the much cooler water from the deeper parts of the reef is washed by “internal waves”. This helps in keeping the corals less vulnerable to bleaching.  The results from the research project will help in answering vital questions like how this coral will serve in the reef from much shallower and warmer waters and how it can help in re-seeding such affected areas. The research operation thus aims to conserve coral reefs and protect them from climate change.

The Chagos project comprises of a team of biologists, oceanographers, and policy experts. The deeper bowels of the underwater environment are made accessible to the team by remotely operated vehicles to explore underwater environments. The research programme is been funded by the Garfield Weston Foundation as part of the Bertarelli Programme in Marine Science. Plymouth is the only university in the UK which is investing such an expansive breadth of research in marine conservation.