Today, we worked on the reefs on the northeast and north sectors of Diego Garcia, the largest island of the Chagos archipelago, at depths ranging from 25 meters up to 5 meters. Conditions were a little bumpy on the surface, but it was wonderful, as usual, underwater. This photo shows the manta ray that swam by today, so close it almost swam into one of us. It was startled when at about a metre away it noticed the diver. One of the problems with scientific diving is that your head is usually down, carefully observing the half metre quadrant or perhaps of tape in front of you and so you often miss much of the spectacular wildlife that swims by. A favorite way of winding up colleagues is to ask them if they noticed the shark, dolphin, manta or some other exotic swimming over their head. In fact, today team members Dr. Heather Koldeway and Catherine Head didn’t see this manta as it swam over them, much to their disappointment.

Manta Ray AnneSheppard

Manta Ray AnneSheppard; photo: Anne & Charles Sheppard/ Chagos Conservation Trust

Huge schools of jacks, snappers, fusiliers and parrotfish continue to thrive here as they did before. As we dropped team member and ornithologist Pete Carr off on one of the small islands, which has many birds, it was nice to see a family of nurse sharks in the shallows.

Previously in this series:

Conserving Chagos: Science Expedition to World’s Largest “Ocean Park”

Conserving Chagos: Starting Out