In the last years, BRUVs (Baited Remote Underwater Videos) was implemented in the monitoring program in Saint Paul’s Archipelago especially to explore mesophotic reefs but also to estimate the abundance of big top predators, including pelagic fishes and wary sharks. Since 2017 longline fisheries had been banned from the region, and very recently sharks started to recolonize the waters around the islets. Pelagic BRUVs with bags of stink sardines is used to attract and estimate the abundance of sharks in and around the Archipelago. The most abundant sharks being detected are the Silky Shark (Carcharhinus falciformis), with few sights of the Galapagos Shark (C. galapagensis). This last one was considered locally extinct due to more than 40 years of longline activity (Luiz & Edwards, 2011). In the past, sharks were a common component of many marine environments but we lost the baseline as having them as a top predators in the food chains in reefs worldwide. Old reports of Saint Paul’s Archipelago claimed that the waters around were fully populated by sharks, which made fishing by hook and line almost impossible. The prohibition of longline was a successful conservation initiative towards pristineness and in the long term it will be possible to understand community changes in the local food web as sharks became again the biggest top predators.
Na última expedição ao Arquipélago de Fernando de Noronha, foi instalada a primeira boia oceanográfica do PELD ILOC. Esta é a primeira de três boias que foram adquiridas através de doação e fruto de colaboração com o grupo Pole to Pole Americas e a Aqualink intermediada pelo professor Cesar Cordeiro (UENF).
As boias fornecem dados de temperatura da água na superfície (1 m) e do fundo (23 m) praticamente em tempo real, além de dados de direção e intensidade de ventos e altura de ondas em intervalos de 6 horas. Os dados são públicos e abertos para todos!
Para ter acesso, entre no dashboards de Fernando de Noronha (https://aqualink.org/sites/1186).
Photos of the Alucia expedition taken by the DR and Nadir submersibles in the São Pedro and São Paulo Archipelago. (A) Tosanoides aphrodite, (B) Hexanchus griseus, (C) Anthias asperilinguis, (D) Physiculus sp., (E) Coelorinchus sp. and (F) Gymnothorax maderensis with a bottle beside.
PELD ILOC is part of the Brazilian Long-Term Ecological program since 2012, and is focused on monitoring shallow reef communities in the four Brazilian oceanic islands (https://peldiloc.sites.ufsc.br/). Additionally, the project actively collaborates in research exploring the mesophotic reefs of those islands.
In this sense, in 2017, the PELD ILOC joined the expedition aboard the American research vessel MV Alucia in partnership with researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI, USA), the Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF, Brazil), the Universidade Federal da Paraíba (UFPB, Brazil) and the California Academy of Sciences (USA). The main goal of this expedition was to look for white fumaroles in the São Pedro and São Paulo Archipelago. Secondarily, images captured by the DeepRover 2 (DR) and Nadir submersibles around the Archipelago, allowed the unprecedented survey of the local deep reef ichthyofauna. The investigation of these fishes has been developed as an undergrad monograph by Cezar De Araujo (UFF), under the supervision of Dr. Carlos E. L. Ferreira (UFF) and Dr. Hudson T. Pinheiro (CEBIMar, USP).
Fish counts and identification were possible by time lapse photos analyse from cameras installed in the two different submersibles performing transects from 100 to 700 meters. The identification of 1,924 individuals (belonging to 32 species, 15 orders and 23 families) revealed a fish community very distinct from the shallow reefs at this site. The data showed a decrease in the abundance and richness of species with increasing depth. Benthic mesophotic planktivores were significantly dominant up to 400 meters deep (e.g., Anthias asperilinguis), with a clear change to macro-carnivores at greater depths (e.g., Physiculus sp.). Many species had their known depth range extended, as the endemic butterflyfish Prognathodes obliquus, to up to 300 m deep. This work contributed to the understanding of the community structure of reef fishes from deep environments of the ASPSP, and highlighting many of the impacts detected (e.g., anthropogenic debris) and the vulnerability of this unique fish species.
Relative abundance of dominant fish families and species along depth and temperature gradients in deep reefs of the São Pedro and São Paulo Archipelago. N/m = total number of fish scaled with bottom time in every 100 meters.
A second lion fish captured at 25 meters deep reefs of Fernando de Noronha oceanic island in Brazil in the last August.
PELD ILOC is a project that is part of the Brazilian long-term ecological program since 2012, and focuses on monitoring reef communities in the four Brazilian oceanic islands (Archipelagos of São Pedro and São Paulo, Fernando de Noronha, Trindade and Martin Vaz and Rocas Atoll – https://peldiloc.sites.ufsc.br/). After two years of field activities suspended due to the covid-19 pandemic, our team now fully vaccinated, and following the protocols established by the WHO in combating and preventing the new coronavirus, will continue the monitoring activities in next October. However, after 5 specimens of lionfish had been captured at Fernando de Noronha, the lionfish is now a new focus on monitoring protocols.
The lionfish (Pterois spp.) have dramatically expanded their distribution range to an area encompassing the eastern coast of the USA, Bermuda, the entire Caribbean region and the Gulf of Mexico in less than 30 years. The lionfish have characteristics that give it a great invasive success, such as its broad dietary breadth, predation efficiency, high fecundity, fast growth, resistance to parasites, mesophotic habitat range and lack of predators. However, the Amazon Barrier, a biogeographical break resulting from the freshwater and sediment discharge of the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers, and contrary currents, imposed resistance to the arrival and establishment of the species in Brazilian waters, at least until now (Luiz et al., 2003).
The first of several records in the same year of lionfish in Brazilian waters was carried out in mesophotic reefs at the mouth of the Amazon River, as well as in the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago. These records allowed researchers to infer an invasion route into the South Atlantic, as can be read in the article “Multiple lionfish (Pterois spp.) new occurrences along the Brazilian coast confirms the invasion pathway into the Southwestern Atlantic”, published last May, in ”Biological Invasions” by Luiz and co-authors (Luiz et al., 2021). Since then, another four individuals of lionfish have been collected in less than a month in Fernando de Noronha. As those oceanic islands hold many endemic species, with short range distribution, which are potential prey to lionfish, monitoring and catch control will be since now implementing. The lionfish monitoring activities, as well as the partnership and training of ICMBio staff (local environment agency) are being carried out by the Long-Term Ecological Program (from the Portuguese acronym, PELD) in Fernando de Noronha, and then in the other oceanic islands.
The 1st Brazilian Reef Meeting (Encontro Recifal Brasileiro) was realized between the July 6th- 8th, and occurred virtually, obeying the rules of social distance in times of pandemic. The event, yet on-line, gathers more than a thousand simultaneous spectators and more than 1000 registrations, which it distributes among scientists in the area, early-career students, and curious people from reef environments, in addition to people from all over Brazil and foreign researchers. It was designed by the researcher César Cordeiro and promoted by a team of undergraduate, doctoral from the Laboratories: LECAR-UFF and LECOM-UFRN. During the three days were realized nine round tables were held with different themes, from the primordial knowledge of coral reefs, the integration of science-society-politics, to the latest technologies that are being used for research in this environment. As usual presentations of scientific works also happen virtually, the authors send videos about their works that were made available via YouTube for transmission to all participants of the event. In this category, we had three works accepted with data from PELD ILOC, including the work of Mrs. Vitor Picolotto, who was classified among the 10 best works of the event. The integration of researchers and listeners was of great importance, there were many moments of debates and reflections on how studies in the areas in progress continue to occur during and after a pandemic. This was the first event in the country aimed exclusively at the public and, in 2021, we hope it can happen basically. For those who want to interest, all of them like round tables, chats, and PELD works are on the event’s YouTube channel (@encontrorecifalbr), available for answers whenever and wherever you want. The event took place along with the Global Week of Coral Reefs, which was also held virtually with lectures by several researchers from the Caribbean among other countries, a CRWG program, and is also available on the Brazilian meeting channel. That’s it, see you in 2021 with much more EreBra !!!
The Ph.D. candidate Lucas T. Nunes and collaborators published in The Marine Biologist April 2020. Their paper, “Tropical laboratories in the Atlantic Ocean”, focuses on the work done by the Long-Term Ecological Research of Brazilians Oceanic Islands (PELD-ILOC). The article can be found here — check it out!
Check out the article on the National Geographic Brasil! Written in Portuguese by Adele Santelli this is an article that highlights the effects of climate change on marine environments and had a collaboration of Dr. Anaide W. Aued.
Away 1200 km from Vitória/ES (Brazil’s southeast coast), Trindade Island was the destination of another expedition of the long-term monitoring program of the Brazilian oceanic islands PELD-ILOC. It was the 5th expedition conducted by our group to the Trindade and Martin-Vaz complex, the eastern tips of the Vitória-Trindade seamount chain, an isolated and unique ecosystem from Brazil. This year, the team was composed by the four researchers Ph.D. Gabriel Cardozo-Ferreira (LECAR), Ph.D. Anderson Batista (UFES), M.Sc. Larissa Benevides (UFAL) and B.S. Thais Macedo (UFSC).
During the expedition, a series of activities were developed aiming to assess and monitoring different aspects in the island’ marine ecosystem, such as: reef fish assemblage, benthic cover composition, health status of Montastrea cavernosa coral colonies, population structure of the Aratu crab (Grapsus grapsus), and the structure of the sea urchin assembly. Moreover, the team also collected data other than the related to the monitoring itself but as part of ongoing researches related to PELD, for example, like samples of different coral species for DNA purposes, calcarean algae for molecular biology and fish specimens for trophic ecology studies.
The whole trip was immensely supported by the Brazilian Navy, from transport to the island to field support in the island. Trindade keeps the usual weather with scattered rains almost every day, but also bright sunny which helped us during all the dives, illuminating the incredibly blue water with its beautiful and diverse marine community (and warming us in the surface intervals and after the dives). Humpback whales sightenning was constant from the island and boat as well as their singing underwater. We were also able to see reef sharks, lots of barracudas, different colourful reef fish species, dolphins and hawksbill and green turtles. We’re back but already looking forward to the next expedition! See you soon, Trindade!
During last October took place the yearly expedition of the PELD-ILOC (Long-Term Ecological Research Program) to St Peter and St Paul’s Archipelago (SPSPA). This year, the team was formed by Dr. Anaide Aued (UFSC), Dr. Thiago Mendes (UNIFESP), M.Sc. Amana Garrido (UFRJ) and Mateus Silva (Brazilian Navy).
SPSPA (00°55’N, 29°22’W) consists of a group of ten small islands located in the equatorial Atlantic halfway between Brazil and Africa. Given its diminished size and isolation, SPSPA is considered a natural laboratory for the study and monitoring of marine communities.
Arriving in the archipelago is not an easy task; it takes four days in a 17 meter fishing boat. After that, the team members stay sojourn for the next two weeks in the tiny scientific station maintained by the Brazilian Navy with very limited communication with the mainland.
The main objectives of the expedition was to perform the annual monitoring of reef components and activities included assessments of the benthic community and the fish assemblage, remote filming of feeding interactions between fish and the benthos, evaluation of the population status of the crab Grapsus grapsus, collection of fish, algae, cnidarians and other invertebrates.
The research conducted by our group is generating important information for this unique Atlantic reef system. Given the recent creation of a new Marine Protected Area around SPSPA we hope that our research will help improve local management and protection in face of escalating global impacts on the oceans.
The 7th PELD ILOC (Long-Term Monitoring of the Brazilian Oceanic Islands) expedition to the Rocas Atoll took place between may 24th and june 26th, 2019, attended by the researchers Natália Roos (UFRN/LECOM), Tainá Gaspar (UFSC/LABAR) and Isadora Cord (UFSC/LBMM), with the help and participation of Jarian Dantas (ICMBio). The Rocas Atoll is located 266 kilometers from the Brazilian coast and figures as the only atoll in the South Atlantic Ocean. The Rocas Atoll Biological Reserve was the first marine protected area created in Brazil, established in the year of 1979. The reserve is fully protected and the only human activity allowed is scientific research. This small atoll harbors a unique ecosystem, important to many organisms, including sharks, sea turtles, endemic reef fishes, corals and sea birds. During the expedition the researchers performed many activities related to the PELD annual monitoring of the local assembly of organisms such as 70 visual census to assess the reef fish assemblage, benthic community structure (photo-quadrats), coral health status (photo-quadrats) and coral bleaching and recruitment (visual census), sea-urchin and Aratu crab (Grapsus grapsus) assembly structure, and feeding behavior of herbivore fishes. Some algae species were collected to extract associated metabolites, and also individuals of the butterflyfish Chaetodon ocellatus to assess the species’ diet as well as its feeding behavior, which was investigated through visual census. The tide regime was favorable in most days, allowing lots of field work, and the experience was extremely enriching to all the researchers involved, who left the atoll with a feeling of “mission accomplished” after collaborating with the attainment of data for many different research projects.