Off the coast of Curacao in the southern Caribbean, Carole and her team of almost 40 Smithsonian researchers are uncovering a new world of biodiversity that science has largely missed. Using a manned submersible, they have discovered at least 50 new species in an area of only around 0.2 square kilometers.
These adventures are not limited to our team or the visiting Marine Biologists. Substation Curacao, which is located inside the Curacao Sea Aquarium Park is open to the public. The deep reef research being conducted is widely available to those interested. More importantly though, you can be part of this unique expedition and learn more about the 50 + new species that have been discovered since launching the Curasub in 2000.
Researchers from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the University of Washington Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture recently teamed up for their second collaborative expedition this year to study deep reefs of the Caribbean. Led by Fish Curators Carole Baldwin (Smithsonian) and Luke Tornabene (UW), members of the Deep Reef Observation Project (DROP) participated in the first-ever submersible exploration off St. Eustatius, one of six islands in the Dutch Caribbean.
There were so many incredible highlights from this trip! There were at least three new species of fishes discovered from reefs between 450-600 ft. We also collected many specimens of species that were previously known only from single locations, or in one case (Psilotris laurae), only from a single specimen found inside a gin bottle!
Smithsonian Deep Reef Observation Project (DROP) scientists spent six days exploring the diversity of marine life off northwest Dominica to depths of 300 m (1,000 ft.). The scientific team comprised specialists of fishes, crabs and other crustaceans, sponges, corals, hydroids, mollusks, and algae.