Researchers return from expedition with new discoveries

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Researchers return from expedition with new discoveries

June 10, 2017 - 11:56
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As part of its ongoing research, researchers from California Academy of Sciences most recently explored the Verde Island Passage in the Philippines and were rewarded with new discoveries and insights.

A new species of nudibranch.

Several weeks ago, a team of researchers from California Academy of Sciences’ Hope for Reefs initiative returned from their latest expedition in the Verde Island Passage in the Philippines—long considered as the “center of the center of marine shorefish biodiversity”.

Both deep and shallow ecosystems were explored in this latest expedition. The team’s mission was to document species diversity, evaluate ecosystem health, and gather data to support smarter ocean conservation strategies.

During the expedition, the team has discovered several new species of fish, nudibranchs, urchins and sand dollars. Since 1992, Academy researchers have been visiting the region; in that time, they have discovered more one thousand marine species new to science.

In addition, Academy curator and coral biologist Dr Rebecca Albright assessed coral health and diversity amongst the shallow dive sites, adding on to her research on maximizing coral recruitment in the presence of environmental stressors. The additional insights gained will help leverage restoration efforts that enhance reef resilience.

The latest expedition also observed that the twilight zone is not immune to human impact or storm damage. Even at 200 to 250 feet depth, the unique mesophotic deep reefs there suffer from marine debris and litter. Unfortunately, marine protected areas and sanctuaries tend to cover shallow reef, ignoring the reefs located at the twilight zone.

The Hope for Reefs initiative aims to reverse the potential collapse of global coral reefs by exploring little-known ecosystems, advancing coral reef science by decades, and communicating these issues to the public through innovative exhibits, media and educational programs.

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