Many species of shark are considered apex predators, and are thought to be of critical importance in maintaining equilibrium in marine ecosystems
Using a human occupied submersible capable of diving to depths of 500 meters, the expedition team will explore the near vertical transition from continental shelf habitats to the deep ocean to:
- Photograph, video, and capture first-hand observations of the behavior of deep-water predators such as the Caribbean reef shark, blunt nose sixgill shark, and Cuban dogfish to better understand their predatory role in food webs ofmarine ecosystems.
- Use depth stratified baited video stations, serviced by the manned submersible, to quantify the relative abundance,diversity and behavior of fish, crustacean and invertebrate communities from the edge of the continental shelf into the depths.
- Collect LiDAR, sonar, and photogrammetric data of submerged natural reefs and notable features of the continental shelf that define marine species habitats.
- Assess the occurrence and adundance of the predatory lionfish to depths of 500 meters to better understand the spread of this invasive species into indigenous deep sea habitats.
A ban on commercial longline fishing in the early 1990s, and a complete moratorium on commercial shark fisheries in 2011 created one of the largest shark sanctuaries in the world. Our data will directly assist in understanding the effects of the ban.