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Expeditions: Saint  Peter and Saint Paul Rocks 2017

On November 2017, a team of four scientists from Universidade Federal Fluminense and BrBio NGO was gathered
in a 15 days expedition to conduct the annual monitoring of St. Peter and St. Paul Rocks. The expedition aimed to
perform surveys on reef fish assemblages and benthic communities to Brazilian Oceanic Island Long-Term
Monitoring project
(PELD-ILOC). Besides yearly sampling of sites for monitoring purposes, the team also collected
DNA samples from Grapsus grapsus crabs, pieces of corals, zoanthids and sediments for a range of demands
from universities in Brazil. 

The PELD-ILOC project also includes fish and benthos surveys of other oceanic islands located within Brazil
Province (Atol das Rocas, Trindade Island, Fernando de Noronha). St Paul´s rocks is considered the island most
poor in species richness due to its high geographic isolation (960 km from the mainland) and small area. Despite
these factors, this island has elevated endemism owing the low connection among species from island and
mainland. On the other hand, this island has been considered how an important stepping stone to marine and
terrestrial fauna (e.g. fish, marine mammals, birds, spiders, and insects) which travel among the continents, or
between north and south of the Atlantic ocean.  

Among the results most striking observed during the presence of PELD/ILOC in this remote island is the
dominance of some fish species, which contributed both density and biomass found around of the island. On the
other hand, some results of the benthic community suggested that this community not presented large change
during the last Niño anomaly (2015-2016). These results are very important to understand the different processes
that influence on the reef communities.

The expedition was composed by Juan Quimbayo, Vinicius J. Giglio, Diana Vergara (all from LECAR-UFF) and
Edson Faria-Jr (BrBio). Some curiosities observed during this expedition was observed of a small group of dolphins
reported in previous studies how a resident group which interacting with divers.

Researcher taking pictures of benthic organisms during photoquadrat surveys.

Photoquadrat of the benthic community at St. Peter and St. Paul rocks.

Fish assemblage observed during scuba diving around of St. Peter and St. Paul rocks. 

Written by: Vinicius J. Giglio and Juan P. Quimbayo 11/2017