Science on Costa Rica’s Ocean Floor
The Schmidt Institute recently finished a multi-week expedition to discover some of the more unique marine species in the deep waters off the coast of Costa Rica. Near Isla del Coco while aboard the research vessel Falkor. The focus of the 3-week expedition was to examine the “important corridor” the seamounts provide. On 19 deep sea dives, some as deep as 4000 metres (14,000 feet), the scientists discovered a number of new discoveries.
Throughout the journey the team, led by Temple scientist Dr. Erik Cordes found various colorful corals, sea sponges, brittle stars and oysters. Four species of deep-sea coral and six other animals new to science were found during the expedition. A species of Black coral found on the expedition is thought to be over 1000 years old. The discovery of reef-building stony corals at depths of over 800 metres (2,500 feet) baffled scientists whose closest records were in the deep waters of the Galapagos to the south.
The underlying purpose of these findings is to support efforts to protect these seamounts from fishing and other mining activities. The purpose however is not to stop the fishing and eliminate livelihoods that have stood for hundreds of years, but to educate and safeguard the population of dwindling fish stocks in the area.
The sad truth was that even at 3,600 metres (11,000 feet) trash was discovered on the seafloor, unable to decompose. Human’s impact on the planet will last for millions of years, even at this great depth.