The existence of a new ocean current, the South-west Madagascar Coastal Current, was discovered by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in conjunction with both local and international universities.
The discovery formed part of Madagascar local Heriniaina Juliano Dani Ramanantsoa’s PhD, and drew on contributions from oceanographic experts of the CSIR, University of Cape Town, University of Western Brittany in France, and the French Institute for Research and Development.
The newly-discovered flows poleward off the south-west coast of Madagascar, and a thorough understanding will help scientists better understand ocean circulation in the region.
According to Dr Marjoliane Krug, a senior researcher for CSIR, the existence of a new coastal current is an important discovery for South Africa. “Revealing the existence of the new coastal current is an important discovery for South Africa as it adds to our understanding of the global ocean circulation and brings new insights about biological connectivity between the Madagascar and South African marine regions,” Krug said.
The researchers combined on site and satellite observations to highlight the existence of the coastal poleward current. The current is fairly shallow at 300m deep, and is also narrow at 100km wide. The current is also warm and salty, with a transport volume comparable to that of the Leeuwin current near Australia.
The Southern Madagascar region is a transition zone between the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean and the temperate water of South Africa. The southern waters off Madagascar support a wide range of migratory species, including seabirds and cetaceans (such as dolphins or porpoises). Therefore, there is a direct biological link between the oceanic regions of Madagascar and South Africa.
According to Ramanantsoa, the new knowledge about the current has very specific value for decision-makers in the fishing industry. “Countries have to manage their coastal and marine resources in a way that will ensure the safeguarding of ecosystems. Sustainability is closely linked to how well we manage our marine resources. The more we understand and know, the better we can manage our marine resources,” he said.
Currents are vital in the movements of fish, as well as climate pattern. Ramanatsoa adds that the more we understand about our oceans, the better marine resources can be managed.
We know winds on Mars better than surface currents on Planet “Earth”. But we are getting there: @LOPS_Brest Ph.D. student Juliano Ramanantsoa has just published his discovery of a new current: “the Southwest MAdagascar Coastal Current (SMACC)” https://t.co/WWbXbt6rCb#SKIM4EE9 pic.twitter.com/jroNxkXUt5
— Fabrice Ardhuin (@FabriceArdhuin) April 1, 2018