By Luke Tornabene

Luke ready to dive deep on the Bonaire reefs

Luke ready to dive deep on the Bonaire reefs

The Fish Systematics and Evolution lab just returned from a six day expedition to Bonaire aboard the RV Chapman, where we explored deep reefs using the manned submersible Curasub from Substation Curacao. The trip was the first of many joint expeditions between UW-SAFS and the Smithsonian Institution.  

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!  

Overall, we collected over 1000 specimens of fishes and inverts from 11 submersible dives, plus nearly 50 hours of high-def video.  The deep reefs of Bonaire were unique from those of nearby Curaçao, both in appearance and in their diversity. Many species present in Bonaire have not been observed in Curacao, and vice versa.  But why?! What is the extent of genetic and demographic connectivity between nearby deep reefs?  Do deep reefs harbor more endemic species than shallow reefs?  

Submersible Video from Bonaire

We recently finished editing two videos from our trip to Bonaire, including two comical chases with an armored sea robin, Peristedion brevirostre, and a batfish, Ogcocephalus corniger