Demarcq, H; Noyon, M; Roberts, MJ (2020). Satellite observations of phytoplankton enrichments around seamounts in the South West Indian Ocean with a special focus on the Walters Shoal. DEEP-SEA RESEARCH PART II-TOPICAL STUDIES IN OCEANOGRAPHY, 176, 104800.

Spatial anomalies associated with seamounts and islands have been detected in the South West Indian Ocean using a new surface chlorophyll-a based enrichment index (EI). Calculated from daily L3 4-km MODIS chl-a data from 2003 to 2018, the EI was used to quantify recurrent (seasonal) surface enrichment associated with these features. Most notable were the shallow Walters Shoal (18 m) and nearby deeper WS-2 seamount (480 m), both located on the southern Madagascar Ridge, which showed high EI values of 40% and 15% local enhancement. Tmmelin Island, east of Madagascar, exhibited more moderate values of 15% local increase. Other shallower seamounts including La Perouse (60 m) and MAD-Ridge (240 m) exhibited sporadic or no measurable surface maxima. Regions of strong mesoscale activity such as south of Madagascar where the South East Madagascar Current detaches from the continent also revealed high EI values. A marked seasonality of the EI was observed over the Walters Shoal, with higher values during the oligotrophic season than in the austral winter. The seasonal variability of the MLD in combination with the seamount bathymetry appears to induce the thermal and biological anomalies observed there, possibly favoured by the presence of a Taylor cap at the summit. Ship-collected in situ measurements showed the satellite observed enrichment to be associated with shallowing of the deep chlorophyll maximum, as well as a shift of phytoplankton groups towards diatoms and small flagellates. No net increase of integrated chl-a was measured but a potential doubling in primary productivity is expected. The EI developed in this study, designed to reveal sporadic, small localised chl-a maxima, is likely applicable to other areas in the ocean where there is local enrichments.