It is some 90,000 square kilometres of shallow waters, known as the Mascarene Ridge or Plateau, bound by Madagascar to the east and an arc of islands from the Seychelles in the north to Mauritius in the south.
The Mascarene Ridge, particularly between Ritchie Bank and Cargados Carajos, presents a formidable barrier to the passage of the South Equatorial Current, one of the major water flows in the Indian Ocean.
Gallienne found that the densities of zooplankton increased tenfold along the western edges of the Mascarene Ridge and that this pattern continued far out into the Mascarene Basin, particularly around the Nazareth Channel.
Despite the broad coverage of the studies, our knowledge of the shallowest waters of the Mascarene Ridge remains scant.
At the southern tip of the Mascarene Ridge volcanic activity has shaped the islands and seascape.
In Sun, sea and science (July 2000) Geographical says that the Mascarene Ridge is 115,000 kilometres long.
The Mascarene Ridge actually covers 115,000 square kilometres.
One of its theories about mother nature's two-faced approach in the Indian Ocean is that a vast underwater mountain range, the Mascarene Ridge, works in combination with fluctuations in ocean water temperatures to affect the region's weather.
He is hoping to also use remote sensing for environmental research at the southern end of the Mascarene Ridge. In the air-conditioned cool of the Mauritius Remote Sensing Center, Iain is discussing acquiring some images for use by the Shoals team.