SA Agulhas expedition brings new research findings on Indian Ocean

The state-of-the-art research vessel returned to South Africa from the Comoro Islands and Tanzania.

The 'SA Agulhas ll' docked in Durban Harbour. Picture: Shimoney Regter/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The last leg of the Second International Indian Ocean Expedition (llOE2) is underway as the SA Agulhas ll sets sail to Cape Town from Durban on Tuesday.

The state-of-the-art research vessel returned to South Africa from the Comoro Islands and Tanzania.

The IIOE2 was commissioned 50 years after the first International Indian Ocean Expedition, which took place between 1960 and 1965.

Ashley Johnson, a physicist and director of oceans research at the Department of Environmental Affairs, says Africa has made a meaningful contribution to science during the second expedition.

“In the 60s, Africa’s contribution to the [first] Indian Ocean expedition was minimal. I think only South Africa was involved back then. That first expedition in the 60s gave rise to some of the biggest institutions in India, so it has a legacy… We asked Cabinet to allow us to take leadership in the Second International Indian Ocean Expedition, not only for ourselves but for the region and Africa.”

The department says the work done during the voyage places developing countries of the Indian Ocean in a better position to preserve the integrity of its oceans and detect ocean-related threats to coastal communities and infrastructure.

Johnson says their data collection covers physics, chemistry, biodiversity, large animals and geology.

He adds the findings that have been made during this leg of the expedition will be unveiled during the course of the week.