On September 1, 2021, the Pitcairn Island community will lead a scientific survey to their remote outer islands, carrying out crucial research and monitoring work on their marine environment. Twelve Pitcairn Islanders will be on board the research vessel Silver Supporter as it travels to the outer islands of Henderson, Oeno and Ducie, in the southern Pacific Ocean.
A range of scientific and environmental survey work will be undertaken, including the collection of data on fish prevalence (inshore and mid-water), cetacean sightings, water quality, and more. The vessel will also support compliance and enforcement work being undertaken around Pitcairn.
The data collected will help to inform the management and protection of Pitcairn's Marine Protected Area, including against key ocean threats such as climate change and illegal fishing.
Specifically, the expedition will investigate the potential impact of climate change on Pitcairn's pristine coral reefs. The data collected will allow scientists to assess the resilience of Pitcairn's biologically significant corals to a changing climate. This was an activity recommended by the recent Pitcairn Climate Change Impacts on Corals Report Card.
The British Polynesia expedition is due to last for one month and is being funded by the U.K. government's Blue Belt Program. The Program has provided a range of equipment and advice for the survey, and it will also support in data analysis once collected.