Coral Reefs of the Chagos Archipelago, Indian Ocean

  • Charles R. C. SheppardEmail author
  • Mebs Ateweberhan
  • Allen C. Chen
  • Alasdair Harris
  • Rachel Jones
  • Shashank Keshavmurthy
  • Carl Lundin
  • David Obura
  • Sam Purkis
  • Peter Raines
  • Bernhard Riegl
  • Michael H. Schleyer
  • Anne L. S. Sheppard
  • Jerker Tamelander
  • John R. Turner
  • Shakil Visram
  • Sung-Yin Yang
Part of the Coral Reefs of the World book series (CORW, volume 4)


Coral cover throughout the Chagos archipelago is high. Coral and soft coral mortality was very severe in 1998, along with most of the ocean, but there are no direct human impacts so that soft coral and coral cover is as high as it was before the massive mortality episode. There is a very low incidence of coral disease, and there are no recorded marine invasive species, a condition which is unprecedented in coral seas. The area contains between 25 and 50 % of the reefs in the Indian Ocean in very good condition, and the area has the largest contiguous area in the world of reefs in such a state. Reasons for the good condition of Chagos reefs are likely to include remoteness from compounding human activities, but also strongly light adapted ‘Clade A’ zooxanthellae may contribute: these occur in approximately half of the shallow water Acropora colonies which are now recovering strongly. Another contributing factor may be the regular incursions of deep, cool water that rise to cover reefs, including during annual periods of greatest warming. These reefs are viewed as a ‘baseline’ or reference point for many other coral rees in the Indian Ocean.


Indian Ocean Coral Cover Ballast Water Soft Coral Invasive Alien Species 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors thank the Administration of the British Indian Ocean Territory for permission to visit the area on various occasions, the military Commanders and personnel for much assistance on site, and to the Officers and crew of the BIOT Patrol Vessel Pacific Marlin for exceptional help on all visits to atolls away from Diego Garcia. The OTEP fund provided core funds for most visits, and all scientists involved received funding from numerous sources to carry out their own programmes of work in the archipelago. Some of this material was published previously in Sheppard et al. (2012) and is reproduced with permission of Wiley & Sons.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles R. C. Sheppard
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mebs Ateweberhan
    • 1
  • Allen C. Chen
    • 3
  • Alasdair Harris
    • 2
  • Rachel Jones
    • 4
  • Shashank Keshavmurthy
    • 3
  • Carl Lundin
    • 5
  • David Obura
    • 6
  • Sam Purkis
    • 7
  • Peter Raines
    • 8
  • Bernhard Riegl
    • 7
  • Michael H. Schleyer
    • 9
  • Anne L. S. Sheppard
    • 1
  • Jerker Tamelander
    • 10
  • John R. Turner
    • 11
  • Shakil Visram
    • 3
  • Sung-Yin Yang
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Life SciencesUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK
  2. 2.Omnibus Business CentreLondonUK
  3. 3.Biodiversity Research CentreAcademia SinicaNankangTaiwan
  4. 4.Zoological Society of LondonLondonUK
  5. 5.IUCN Marine ProgrammeGlandSwitzerland
  6. 6.CORDIO East AfricaMombasaKenya
  7. 7.National Coral Reef InstituteNova Southeastern University, Oceanographic CenterDania BeachUSA
  8. 8.LondonUK
  9. 9.Oceanographic Research InstituteDurbanSouth Africa
  10. 10.UNEP Division of Environmental Policy Implementation, UNBangkokThailand
  11. 11.School of Ocean SciencesBangor UniversityAngleseyUK

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