MIAMI, FL (AUGUST 26, 2010) -- The cover story of the most recent issue of National Geographic Magazine (August 2010) features a University of Miami (UM) led expedition to the underwater caves of the Bahamas, known as 'blue holes.' These unique environments are one of the least understood ecosystems on the planet, largely due to the challenges involved in studying these extreme environments, which include complete darkness, dramatic reversing currents, extreme depths, poisonous gasses, and silty, tight squeezes. The expedition made significant findings related to the past history of the earth, including human occupation, previously undiscovered microbial life, and abrupt climatic changes.
The expedition was conceived of and led by National Geographic Emerging Explorer Kenny Broad, Director of UM's Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, and Associate Professor at UM's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Funded by The National Geographic Society, the National Museum of the Bahamas, and the National Science Foundation, this work included more than 150 dives and involved unique collaboration between cave divers, scientists from several different fields, and a specialized film team led by the late Wes Skiles, a renowned filmmaker, conservationist and cave explorer. The expedition also was featured in a one-hour NOVA PBS special entitled "Extreme Cave Diving."
"What may look like an insignificant little muddy hole in the woods is actually a window into a world we know little about, a time capsule of evolutionary history that not only provides us with information about where we came from, but what surprises the climate may have in store for us," said Broad. "In addition to the scientific value of these caves, underground aquifers are critical reservoirs of fresh water on a global scale. Like many out of sight -out of mind situations, they are largely ignored, and are threatened by overuse, pollution and incre
|Contact: Marie Guma-Diaz|
University of Miami