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Expeditions reveal gulf of California's deep sea secrets, as well as human imprints
Date:12/3/2008

Scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego returning from research expeditions in Mexico have captured unprecedented details of vibrant sea life and ecosystems in the Gulf of California, including documentations of new species and marine animals previously never seen alive. Yet the expeditions, which included surveys at unexplored depths, have revealed disturbing declines in sea-life populations and evidence that human impacts have stretched down deeply in the gulf.

In one expedition, researchers Exequiel Ezcurra (adjunct professor at Scripps Oceanography and former provost of the San Diego Natural History Museum), Brad Erisman (Scripps postdoctoral researcher) and Octavio Aburto-Oropeza (graduate student researcher) traveled on a three-person submarine to explore marine life in the Gulf of California's deep-sea reefs and around undersea mountains called seamounts.

The DeepSee submersible gave the researchers unique access to environments below 50 meters (164 feet), depths virtually unknown in the gulf because of their inaccessibility below scuba diving levels.

"Our investigation resulted in many new discoveries, which included new species of invertebrates and possibly fishes," said Erisman. "Similarly, we collected and observed species that had not been recorded in the gulf, had never been observed alive or had never been observed at such depths."

"The synergistic collaboration between Scripps researchers and the San Diego Natural History Museum was the driver of this wonderful endeavor," said Ezcurra. "We were able to raise the funds for the boat and the DeepSee submersible in record time, allowing us to invite some of Mexico's top marine scientists to join the team. The long tradition of binational cooperation nurtured by the museum in its 134 years of life was instrumental in this collaborative development."

Scientists at universities in Mexico are now conducting detailed genetic an
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Contact: Mario Aguilera or Annie Reisewitz
scrippsnews@ucsd.edu
858-534-3624
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert  

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