On the 23rd of January, 2013, we will embark on our way to the Falkland Islands. We are flying with the British Royal Air Forces (FAR) from RAF Brize Norton (the UK’s largest military airbase, near Oxford) to RAF Mount Pleasant, which is located at an approx. 1 hr driving distance from Stanley (the capital of the Falkland Islands) with a stop in Ascension Island (in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean). Altogether, that means around 9 hours flight from Brize Norton to Ascension, about 3 h on the ground there for refuelling, and then 9 more hours to the Falklands.
The Falkland Islands are located in the South Atlantic Ocean on the Patagonian Shelf. They are also called the Malvinas (after French 18th century settlers from St. Malo, Brittany).
The purpose of this expedition is sampling of live isolates of macroalgae (seaweeds) and their pathogens around the Falklands. Oomycete pathogens affecting algae and fish will be collected as well.
The seaweed biodiversity around the Falklands remains only incompletely explored. Since the pioneering work of Skottsberg in the early 20th century, few phycologists have visited the islands. Especially there are significant gaps in the understanding of the Falklands’ deep-water brown algal flora.
Moreover, the main aims of this expedition include the study of the molecular biology, ecology and physiology of macroalgae of the Subantarctic region. This expedition will provide samples for molecular identification of mostly filamentous macroalgae, cataloguing seaweed herbarium specimens and culturing of live isolates. The help from the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute in Stanley for this expedition will be much appreciated!