Scientists with the Smithsonian Institution have discovered at least one new fish species at a deep reef off Curacao while conducting a yearlong project to gather data on temperature and biodiversity for monitoring climate change effects in the Caribbean.
The discovery occurred in recent weeks off the southern edge of the Dutch Caribbean island as scientists used a submarine to explore depths up to 1,000 feet.
Dr. Carole Baldwin, a zoologist, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the team is studying 25 to 30 other specimens of fish and invertebrates collected during the trip that they believe are new species.
“It’s like a biology bonanza,” she said. “We’re in depths that scientists just missed.”
She said the data being collected during the project that began last August will help to monitor the health of Caribbean reefs and provide information for developing ways to protect the underwater features.AP
The Caribbean has 10 percent of the world’s coral reefs and an estimated 1,400 species of fish and marine mammals, but warming waters and disease have decimated many reefs in the region. Live coral cover has dropped to an average 8 percent of reefs from 50 percent in the 1970s, experts say.