The African Marine MegaTransect Expedition will focus on three specific focal areas, which include; scientific contributions, open access data and media campaigns. Within each of the three focal areas key targets have been set, the accomplishment of which will contribute not only to the success of the expedition but also in providing meaningful and strategic resolutions to the challenges underpinning the decimation East Africa's coral reef ecosystem.
1. Scientific perspectives and key target:
- Diver operated stereo-videography: To
conduct diver operated stereo-videography (DOV) surveys of coral reef fish
biomass, diversity, abundance and distribution in accordance with the East
African Marine Transect Expedition 2012/2013 survey methodology. By replicating
the diver based stereo-videography survey the team will create a comprehensive
comparative database detailing the decline or recovery of the fish assemblages
associated with East Africa's coral reefs.
- Coral reef health monitoring: Use coral
reef transect photography to assess coral reef health, diversity and species
distribution. High resolution photographic surveys are commonly and widely used
for assessments of benthic communities, and can provide an accurate, precise,
standardized and cost-effective method for determining benthic species
compositions and diversity, and quantifying percentage cover of different
species or functional groups. The digital imagery also provides a permanent,
- Baited Remote Underwater Video analysis: (BRUVs) have
been employed for rapid assessments, long-term monitoring and MPA assessments
throughout the world. BRUVS are currently being used in a
dedicated global assessment of reef-associated shark and ray populations
(https://globalfinprint.org) and numerous southern African MPA monitoring
programs; however, they have been used little in East Africa. As with the
stereo DOV, stereo BRUV systems allow the accurate measurement of fish lengths,
and thus provide valuable information on community structure and
length-frequency compositions of the different species. Stereo BRUVS will be
used in the expedition to provide quantitative data on deep water reef fish
- Micro-plastic assimilation in commonly eaten fish in East Africa: Quantifying ingestion and assimilation rates of micro-plastics in marine food webs presents fascinating analytical and ecological questions. Analytical approaches to date have focused on direct detection of micro-plastics in gastrointestinal tracts or tissue, biomarkers analysis, or inferences drawn from concentrations in seawater. These approaches have been valuable in establishing that micro-plastics are ingested but they do little to contribute to our understanding of overall ingestion and assimilation rates. Understanding the assimilation of micro-plastics into tissues of commonly eaten fishes along the East African coastline will provide valuable evidence regarding possible plastic contamination in fish, which in turn will indicate possible health threats to the current coastal population of East Africa.
- High tech reef mapping: Using a combination of split scan sonar, drones, and satellite imagery to build a comprehensive map of sample locations will be vital for overlaying critical biological information. Such technology will provide habitat analysis for critical management use areas like Marine Protected Areas and special use management zones.
- Exploratory data: Use remotely powered underwater vehicles and BRUVs to assess deep water habitats and species using fluorescence photography. New technology has allowed for unique analyses to be conducted using wavelengths outside humans natural visual spectrum. Such data will provide unique insights into deepwater ecosystems and will contribute new observations and discoveries to science.
2. MAPSTACKING data outputs (open source data):
- Data mapping: All data collected during the African Marine MegaTransect will be open accessed. The main platform will be through a mapping tool called MAPSTACK developed by Airmark Technologies Pty. Ltd. The MAPSTACK will layer key biological data, geographic data and social data in one integrated map, allowing rapid visual assessments and to be made.
- Data types: Split scan high definition sonar reef mapping, fish survey data, reef survey data, social data, fish toxicology data, satellite integration data regarding oceanographic data (sea surface temperature, chlorophyl production etc.).
- Plastic assimilation in fish: Also integrated into the MAPSTACK, plastic assimilation in commonly eaten fish will provide an area analysis of fish health, i.e. areas where fish toxicity may be problematic to human consumption can be mapped and described accordingly.
- Immersion technology: Use virtual reality and photo spheres to create immersion content that will be integrated into the MAPSTACK.
3. Media creation and strategy
- Launch specific media campaigns (to be announced once funding has been secured).
- Use social media to engage the millenials, a specific target audience for the expedition.
- Use virtual reality and 360 photo spheres to create immersion content, brining the "ocean floor to the surface" so to speak.
- Present management guidelines and policy recommendations.
- Link the media campaign through the MAPSTACK visualisation tool.
- Publish popular and scientific papers.
- Filming the expedition for documentary/series production.