delware environmental institute

Mapping deep reefs produces valuable data for researchers, conservationists

Mapping deep reefs produces valuable data for researchers, conservationists

A study authored by University of Delaware professor Art Trembanis and colleagues reveals new details about deep sea reefs — known as mesophotic reefs — near the island of Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean.

While coral reefs worldwide are in decline, the waters surrounding Bonaire comprise a marine park known as a scuba “diver’s paradise” because it contains some of the most well-preserved coral reefs in the Caribbean basin.

Trembanis and colleagues used autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to map these deep sea reefs, situated 100 to over 500 feet (30 to over 150 meters) below the ocean surface, which are considered a lifeline for shallow reef recovery due to stressors like warming (bleaching), ocean acidification, over fishing and other deteriorations.