My name is Linda Eggertsen and I’m a PhD candidate at DEEP.

Linda Eggertsen.

At the moment, I am participating in an expedition to Ilha da Trindade, an oceanic island located 1100 km from the Brazilian coast. The expedition is part of a project about ecological monitoring of reef fish and benthos at the Brazilian four oceanic islands (Ilha da Trindade, São Pedro and São Paulo Archipelago, Rocas Atol and Fernando de Noronha).

We monitor the fish and benthic community of the islands to be able to detect changes caused by for example fishing or climate change, and to understand ecological community dynamics of oceanic islands.

extremt vanlig på oceaniska öar men finns inte längs kuster
Oceanic triggerfish Melichthys niger. It's very common on oceanic islands and doesn't exist by the coasts. Photo: Linda Eggertsen.

The island is remote, since there is no airport, and logistics is provided by the Brazilian Navy, who maintain a military base at Trindade. At the island, there is also a small research station where we are accommodated, but no people live permanently at the island.

Transport to and from the island is provided by Navy ships, that once a month bring supplies and navy personnel to Trindade. It takes three days to get here, crossing the open ocean from the ports of Rio de Janeiro or Vitória.

What I know of, I am probably the first Swedish researcher on the island. Access is difficult because of the remote location, and all participants has to be authorized by the Brazilian Navy. Private boats are usually not allowed to approximate the island. Many Brazilian people don’t even know that the island exists.

Brazilian wrasse Halichoeres brasiliensis, Photo: Linda Eggertsen.
The highest point in Ilha da Trindade (Pico do desejado). Photo: Linda Eggertsen.

Interesting characters include the vulcanic landscape, the large quantities of the terrestrial crab Jongarthia langostoma, a forest of giant fern trees, and several species of sea birds and fish species. Some fish that we observe are native and can only be found here.

Parts of Trindade have actually just become part of a large, much debated marine reserve in the Atlantic. The critique is for example that the most sensitive and biodiversity rich areas were excluded from the marine protected areas (MPAs), and that certain types of fishing will still be allowed within the boundaries of the MPA.

Grapsus grapsus crab. Photo: Linda Eggertsen.

 

The seabird white tern or Gygis Alba. Photo: Linda Eggertsen.

The dramatic, raw features of the island make you expect a dinosaur appear at any time. Since we are far from land, the ocean is clear, with visibility usually about 25 meters. It is also whale season, and we frequently see groups of humpback whales. When diving, we hear them communicate with each other all the time.

The expedition is executed by the Reef Systems Ecology and Conservation Lab at Universidade Federal Fluminense and also including participants from the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina.

 

Nurse shark Ginglymostoma cirratum. Photo: Linda Eggertsen.
The southern end of Ilha da Trindade. Photo: Linda Eggertsen.

 

A few recently published papers from Ilha da Trindade

Andrades R, Reis-filho JA, Macieira RM, Giarrizzo T, Joyeux J (2018) Endemic fish species structuring oceanic intertidal reef assemblages. Sci Rep 8:1–9

Pinheiro HT, Bernardi G, Simon T, Joyeux J-C, Macieira RM, Gasparini JL, Rocha C, Rocha LA (2017) Island biogeography of marine organisms. Nature doi:10.1038/nature23680

Quimbayo JP, Dias MS, Kulbicki M, Mendes TC, Lamb RW, Johnson AF, Aburto-oropeza O, Alvarado JJ, Bocos AA, Ferreira CEL, Garcia E, Luiz OJ, Mascareñas-osorio I, Pinheiro HT, Rodriguez-zaragoza F, Salas E, Zapata FA, Floeter SR (2018) Determinants of reef fish assemblages in tropical Oceanic islands. Ecography (Cop) 41:1–11