As you may have read, chapter volunteer Jeff Williams is on Ascension Island in the middle of the equatorial Atlantic Ocean. It’s a military base for the United Kingdom with a US presence as well. Although hopes were high for an island awash in plastic debris, little to none was found. This is being attributed to the strong current and the relative lack of sandy beaches since much of the island has steep volcanic slopes at the water’s edge.
But like many islands there are endemic species. These are species found nowhere else in the world like these giant land crabs that live on those volcanic slopes but venture down to the sea only once a year to mate.
There are global species as well like sea turtles that are found all over the world. Unfortunately, they were harvested as food for decades before they were protected as noted in this video. Jeff reports seeing plenty of turtles nesting on the beaches these days, so that is a bit of a success story. Indeed Jeff saw turtle tracks in the sand and Green Turtles near the shore.
Due to the island’s remoteness and due to the fact that there is no permanent population, there is no industry, and there is no fishing fleet. As a result, the waters around Ascension are teeming with fish and other marine life. The government of the UK recently established a Marine Protected Area covering 443,000 square kilometers. More on that here. This is a huge deal because top scientists believe we need to protect a significant amount of the ocean from fishing and other extraction to help preserve the planet. Read about the 30 by 30 initiative here.
Of course, all this ocean life cuts both ways. There are sharks galore around Ascension as this angler found out. Of course, there are some waves but nobody thinks of paddling out. We are just thankful that Jeff Williams shared al of this with us...from a safe distance!