Expedition blogs and news from the Shallow Marine Surveys Group

Diving Boatswain Bird Island!

With our appetites for the legendary Boatswain Bird Island whetted by the hike to see it, we had to wait some time before weather, the swell and an available vessel came together to allow us to return.

Over two days last week, the entire team made the voyage around Ascension Island to survey this amazing location, diving clear waters in the shadow of the looming rock which is home to thousands of nesting seabirds.

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These photos are just a few of the hundreds recorded by the team. Over the following days we'll be sorting and cataloguing the rest, and we'll be uploading galleries for all the species we've recorded during the surveys.

Hopefully we'll be able to return to Boatswain Bird Island before the expedition is over but that depends heavily on the sea state, with that side of Ascension Island usually exposed to the full Atlantic swell. Even if we can't make it back, there is still plenty of work to be done along the more accessible coasts!

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Boatswain Bird Island

On Sunday 26th August, most of the team had a break from the intensive diving of the first week on the island. Team members dispersed to all corners of Ascension but Dr's Pieter van West, Vladimir Laptikhovsky and Wetjens Dimmlich elected to take the 4 hr round trip hike to Letterbox, a vantage point at the eastern-most point of Ascension Island. This location offers magnificent views along the coast and over Boatswain Bird Island, an inaccessible rock about 300m from Ascension.

The hikers were met at the start of the walk by low clouds and strong winds driving rain over the mountain and had to make the decision whether to attempt the long walk across the inhospitable lava fields. However, the indomitable Vlad Laptikhovsky, echoing the words of another famous Russian pioneer, Yuri Gagarin, "Let's go!" encouraged the rest of the small group to grit their teeth and set forth into the white-out conditions.

(It may also be that the same words were used by Captain Scott in the Antarctic).

Along the way the group were alternately hot, cold, wet and dry but the effort was rewarded by stunning views of Boatswain Bird Island before the weather closed in yet again.

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