It sure doesn’t look like a scientific research boat. The Soavina III is a massive hulking and rusting ship, affectionately dubbed “the Ol’ Rust Bucket” by the CI team who called it home for two weeks.
Madagascar is best known for its unique plants and animals – both on land and undersea. In 2006, we deployed a RAP (Rapid Assessment Program) team off the northeast coast of the island nation. Our mission: to document the incredible diversity of life in these waters.
DIG DEEPER: Explore some of CI's other marine projects.
The expedition team found an abundance of life far greater than we expected. Where there are healthy coral reefs, there is great marine life. So it quickly became clear to us that Madagascar’s coral reefs are bucking a global trend. They are not suffering the destructive bleaching found in other reefs that is attributed to climate change.
Our scientists believe cool upward currents from surrounding deeper waters are mitigating climate change’s effects here. This is good news for Madagascar’s marine life and underscores the need to continually monitor these areas to ensure they remain healthy and productive.
"The resilience and health of the coral reefs with their biodiversity makes the reefs of Madagascar a high conservation priority," says Dr. Gerry Allen, a leading scientist and key member of the expedition.
Our surveys here have doubled the number of known species in Madagascar’s waters, according to RAP leader Sheila McKenna. The latest results will further inform Madagascar President Marc Ravalomanana's conservation planning.
The president has pledged to triple the island nation's total protected areas to 23,000 square miles, including 3,800 square miles of marine protected areas. And he is keeping his word, declaring in April 2007 a protected area the size of Connecticut.