SA Agulhas II docks in Tanzania for International Indian Ocean Expedition II (IIOE2).
Department of Environmental Affairs’ (DEA) research and polar vessel, the SA Agulhas II docked in Tanzania, as part of South Africa’s second training and capacity building voyage for the Second International Indian Ocean Expedition II (IIOE2). The IIOE2 is a multi-national programme of the United Nations Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) which emphasises the need to research the Indian Ocean and its influence on the climate and its marine ecosystem.
The IOC recognised that there was a persistent lack of basic long-term environmental information in the Indian Ocean, particularly for countries surrounding the Indian Ocean. As a result, the IOC decided to declare the beginning of the IIOE2, 50 years after the first IIOE. This renewed interest in the area has brought numerous research voyages with state-of-the-art technology. The data collection will cover physics, chemistry, plankton, biodiversity, large animals such as whales and seabirds as well as geology.
IIOE-2 capacity building programs will be focused on the translation of the science and information outputs for societal benefit and training of relevant individuals from surrounding nations.
The gathering of basic long-term environmental data and information will place the developing countries of the Indian Ocean, in a better position to conserve the integrity of its ocean, find ways to unlock their respective potential Ocean Economies to improve the lives of their citizens; and to better detect and adapt to ocean related threats to coastal communities and infrastructure. All these data provide important information in understanding the ocean environment and its links to developing a successful sustainable Ocean Economy.
South Africa, too, has committed to this very important initiative with research voyages in our own waters of the Indian Ocean. Within the ocean context and its links to Climate Change, national efforts must be coordinated with regional programmes, as many of the processes occur and impact several countries at once. The impacts of extreme ocean-based events will affect both economic and social aspects of the country. This is very relevant in South Africa when considering the Ocean Economy Strategy within the broader NDP-Vision 2030, in addressing economic growth, poverty alleviation and job creation.
Additionally, in 2017 South Africa accepted the Chair of Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and cabinet approved the utilisation of the DEA’s research vessels, SA Agulhas II and RV Algoa, as research platforms in the region during the IIOE2 period, to not only enhance our own information in our waters but to assist our African neighbours in understanding theirs.
The scientific expeditions will also contribute towards the establishment of Regional Centres of Competence to build capacity, as contained in the IOC Sub-Commission for Africa (IOCAFRICA) strategy document within South Africa, Mauritius, Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros, Tanzania and Kenya. In order to facilitate cooperation and strengthening of capacity the centres were defined, based on existing initiatives within the selected country:
- Cape Town, South Africa: Operational Oceanography
- Port Louis, Mauritius: Satellite Remote Sensing
- Zanzibar, Tanzania: Biodiversity
- Mombasa, Kenya: Data and Information Management
These centres will also act as regional training facilities, collaborative areas and to allow for regional and international experts to run hands-on training workshops, etc.
The Second International Indian Ocean Expedition II (IIOE-2) is a major global scientific program which will engage the international scientific community in collaborative oceanographic and atmospheric research from coastal environments to the deep sea over the period 2015-2020, revealing new information on the Indian Ocean (i.e. its currents, its influence upon the climate, its marine ecosystems) which is fundamental for future sustainable development and expansion of the Indian Ocean’s blue economy. A large number of scientists from research institutions from around the Indian Ocean and beyond are planning their involvement in IIOE-2 in accordance with the overarching six scientific themes of the program. Already some large collaborative research projects are under development, and it is anticipated that by the time these projects are underway, many more will be in planning or about to commence as the scope and global engagement in IIOE-2 grows.
Focused research on the Indian Ocean has a number of benefits for all nations. The Indian Ocean is complex and drives the region’s climate including extreme events (e.g. cyclones, droughts, severe rains, waves and storm surges). It is the source of important socio-economic resources (e.g. fisheries, oil and gas exploration/extraction, eco-tourism, and food and energy security) and is the background and focus of many of the region’s human populations around its margins. Research and observations supported through IIOE-2 will result in an improved understanding of the ocean’s physical and biological oceanography, and related air-ocean climate interactions (both in the short-term and long-term). The IIOE-2’s program will complement and harmonise with other regional programs underway and collectively the outcomes of IIOE-2 will be of huge benefit to individual and regional sustainable development as the information is a critical component of improved decision making in areas such as maritime services and safety, environmental management, climate monitoring and prediction, food and energy security.
On 17 October- 13 November 2017, the South African oceanographic research vessel, the SA Agulhas II undertook its first cruise in the framework of IIOE-2 (Cruise IIOE2-EP26) from Durban, South Africa on 17 October 2017 to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and ending in Durban on 13 November 2017. The cruise, which was coordinated by the South African Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), offered opportunities for oceanographic surveys and training off the coasts of South Africa, Mozambique and Tanzania.
The topics covered included physical oceanography, chemical Oceanography, biological oceanography, benthic biodiversity, marine top predators (whales, seabirds), marine geology, and social sciences. IOC Sub-Commission for Africa (IOCAFRICA) and the Indian Ocean Global Ocean Observing System (IOGOOS) sponsored the participation of 20 marine scientists and students from Egypt, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Tanzania in the cruise. IOCAFRICA in collaboration with DEA and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) organized a special session on IIOE-2 at 10th Scientific Symposium of WIOMSA (30 October – 4 November 2017, Dar es Salaam), and an Open Day on board the SA Agulhas II on 2 November 2017 in order to raise awareness on the expedition and engage marine scientists and resource managers from the region in the expedition.
Again this year, 2018 June, DEA organised an Open Day on board the SA Agulhas II form 09 – 15 June 2018 in order to raise awareness on the IIOE2 expedition and engage stakeholders from the region in the expedition.
15 June 2018 - SA Agulhas II docks in Tanzania for International Indian Ocean Expedition II (IIOE2).
SA Agulhas II arrives in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania for the International Indian Ocean Expedition II (IIOE2).
The IIOE2 expedition team is finally in Dar es Salaam aboard the SA Agulhas II as part of the 2nd training and capacity building voyage. This multi-national programme emphasises the need to research the Indian Ocean & its influence on the climate and its marine ecosystem.
20 June 2018 - Today the first rocky Dredge in Tanzanian waters yielded many sponges.
24 June 2018 - More algae, corals and sponges were found using the Jump Camera between Zanzibar and Tanzania mainland.
25 June 2018 - The Dredge and Grab equipment deployed close to Mafia island in Tanzanian waters has proven to be very fruitful with a wide range of sponges, algae, star fish, coral, sand dollar, bivalves, crabs, and whelk found there.
Last but not least the Ski-monkey (camera system) while surveying the seafloor on the south of Dar es Salaam and Mafia Island, captured the spider-crab, fish and anemone.
Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)