Researchers at the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) have been mapping the deep waters at the northern end of the Bahamian archipelago for many years, but their efforts got a boost recently when they partnered with state-of-the-art research vessel M/V Alucia.
Equipped with two manned submersibles carrying cutting-edge cameras and high-tech sensors, the Alucia allowed the team to journey down 800 meters (2,624 feet) into the dark, mysterious depths of the Exuma Sound to see, monitor and sample the creatures and terrain.
For CEI Research Associate Brendan Talwar, it was a game-changer.
“All of our information about the depths came from dropping lines, which didn’t give us very high-resolution data,” he said. “We had a very basic understanding of what was there. There is something so different and incredible about actually going down and exploring it.”
Pancake batfish, swimming sea cucumbers, white-spotted catsharks and a dazzling array of jellyfish greeted the subs. When they broke the surface, the research team had a new understanding of the environment they’d been studying for so long.
This is the first part of an article by Catherine Morris published in Mongabay