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Exploring the Ocean around Exuma

Published on December 9, 2018 by donamesbury@yahoo.com

This is the third in a series of articles about Exploring the Ocean around Exuma:-

Attaching a modified speargun to the front of the Nadir and travelling down to 800 meters (2624 feet), the scientists hoped to tag a Bahamian sixgill in the safest, most humane way possible.

Although their efforts were unsuccessful, they came close. “The shark came right in front of the sub, but it was just a little too high up,” Talwar said. “Just putting in the legwork was great. It’s never been done on a sub before at those depths.”

Another key objective during August’s mission was to sample the water at 200-800 meters (656-2,624 feet) to test for environmental DNA (eDNA). “When an animal swims around, it leaves little pieces of DNA behind in the water,” Talwar said. “We are trying to see if environmental DNA can reveal the abundance of certain species.”

The team had specially adapted bottles attached to the front of the sub that collected water. The water was then run through filters in the lab and the results cross-referenced with footage the team took from the site to see if the species caught on camera are the same as those identified from the DNA.

Sharks

“We put a lot of effort into figuring out where to site protected areas, but a lot of that effort goes into shallow-water areas,” Talwar said, adding that he wanted to see more of a focus on deep-water habitats.

“We want to highlight that there is ecological value down there that is not recognized,” he said. “Going down and shining a light on everything that is often forgotten or not considered was really amazing. Now when we go out to dive, I can look into the deep blue water and know exactly what’s down there.”

Cape Eleuthera Institute Research Associate Brendan Talwar inspects the Deep Rover sub

This the third and final part of the story exploring the depths of the Ocean than borders the islands of Exuma.  The story was first published in Mongabay by Catherine Morris

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