A Netherlands Maritime Research Institute NIOZ research ship and a team with almost 100 scientists will visit the Windward Islands during part of February and March 2018 to conduct research in the sea surrounding the islands.
The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research NWO recently announced the seven-month voyage of NIOZ’s sea research vessel RV Pelagia to the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. The vessel will also do research in the North-Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the Bay of Biscay.
The ship will leave Texel, the Netherlands, on December 11 on a multi-disciplinary expedition called Netherlands Initiative Changing Oceans NICO where scientists will develop more knowhow on the workings of the sea and its living creatures. Together, the scientists will execute close to 40 projects.
The NICO expedition, which will consist of 11 legs, will first go to Curaçao, Aruba and Bonaire, where the ship will remain during the entire month of January 2018. Geochemistry, geology, seabirds and coral reefs will be studied in the seas surrounding Curaçao, Aruba and Bonaire.
From Aruba, the RV Pelagia will sail to St. Maarten where it will arrive around February 12. On its voyage to St. Maarten, the scientists will carry out research in the areas of physical oceanography, sea mammals and seabirds.
In the sea surrounding St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba, in particular the Saba Bank, the scientists will study the ecology, chemistry and hydrology from February 14 to March 10. In total, the ship will remain in the Windward Islands for one month.
The RV Pelagia will depart St. Maarten on March 13 to continue its voyage to the Bahamas, the Mississippi delta, Galway in Ireland, and Horta in the Azores where it should arrive early July. During the entire route, scientists will carry out research into ocean life, the ocean streams, the deep sea and the composition of the seawater.
The researchers hope to learn more about the relation between all the factors of the seas, which is especially important when taking into consideration that the oceans are rapidly changing, mainly due to human intervention.
Climate change, the ever-increasing world population, over-fishing and agriculture are all threats to the fragile marine ecosystem. The rich biodiversity of the seas is severely threatened, with the dying of coral reefs being a main example. The coral reefs in the Dutch Caribbean unfortunately are no exception where it comes to these threats.
The NICO expedition also allows NWO to address the concerns expressed in the so-called Ocean Report of the Dutch Government in which the urgency of having healthy, resilient oceans was emphasised.
The Daily Herald.