Bon Voyage: SA Agulhas II leaves for research

Cape Town – The South African research vessel SA Agulhas II has embarked on her annual voyage to Gough Island, where an over-wintering team will spend 14 months.

“Gough Island is one of the most important weather observation platforms in the world because of its unique geographic position as it lies between the African and South American continent,” Environmental Affairs DDG of oceans and coasts, Dr Monde Mayekiso, told News24.

“There are a number of oceanographic research projects that will be conducted during this voyage,” Mayekiso said.

The research aspect of the trip will look at the distribution and concentration of plankton in the Atlantic basin as well as monitoring the exchange of ocean waters between the two oceans.

Another continuous project will monitor indicators of climate change patterns like seabird populations, distribution, and foraging, according to a media statement.

The SA Agulhas II arrived back from Antarctica in February after a 10-week journey to the South African National Antarctic Expedition (SANAE) base in Antarctica.

The 134m vessel was built in 2012 by a Finnish company and replaced the 31-year-old SA Agulhas which was retired as South Africa’s main research vessel.