Marine research on Curacao is producing spectacular results
TARGETING THE “DEEP REEFS”
By using the manned submersible Curasub for exploration of the deep reefs around Curacao and documenting their discoveries in major scientific journals, marine biologists from all over the world have helped this Caribbean island in rapidly earning a reputation as a destination where exploring the twilight zone of the ocean is producing dynamic results.
The research efforts are for an important part focused on gathering data and specimen. Fish specimens are for instance collected using a fish anesthetic pumped from a reservoir through a tube attached to a hydraulic arm on the starboard side of the submarine and a suction hose attached to the other arm on the port side. The hose empties into a vented Plexiglas cylinder attached to the outside of the sub. Other specimens can be picked up by using the grabbing claw on one of the hydraulic arms or scooping it up in the collecting basket.
Monitoring the deeper reefs to find out what influence factors like climate change, acidification, pollution and invasive species have on ecosystems in greater depths, is another aspect that keeps researchers occupied. Simultaneously they are also trying to find out in what way the deeper reefs might affect the recovery capacity of the shallow reefs. The outcome of such studies is expected to provide valuable information about the functioning of coral reefs and their response to increasing changes and threats.
Contrary to smaller submersibles where scientists need to pilot the submarine themselves while at the same time concentrate on the collecting part of the dive, the scientists on board the Curasub can direct their complete attention to studying all that is going on in the deep reefs and collecting exactly those fish, invertebrates an sponges that pique their professional curiosity and that they believe may yield new insights into what the deep reefs contain.
The Curasub can take researchers down for extended periods of time to depths of 1.000 feet. The maneuverability and the large window and ports on the Curasub make close observation of the sea bottom possible, while the lighting and the high definition camera are especially useful for documentation. The unique collecting arms emphasize the Curasub’s unique character, while the combination of all these features makes the sub the perfect working machine for exploration and scientific research.
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