Most of the ocean floor consists of habitats greater than 200 meters, where many species live yet biodiversity data are severely lacking. With logistical challenges in observing and sampling in the deep, it is no surprise that very little is known about these habitats. This is also true for the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea, where only two major deep-sea surveys have previously sampled biodiversity.
The first major expedition of the Coral Sea occurred in the late 1990s, conducted by the Queensland Museum, and the second occurred in 2019 with CSIRO R/V Investigator. These first two expeditions dredged the seafloor to discover what corals live in these deep habitats. However, never have we been able to physically see what is living at these deep depths and collect corals that might be missed by a dredge.
Between April and November, 2020, Schmidt Ocean Institute’s R/V Falkor explored the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea to facilitate the following expeditions: Visioning the Coral Sea Marine Park, Seamounts, Canyons & Reefs of the Coral Sea, and Northern Depths of the Great Barrier Reef. Using R/V Falkor’s Remotely Operated Vehicle, we collected hard corals, black corals, soft corals, and sponges from 30 meters depth to over 4,000 meters depth. In this webinar I will take you through these adventures, present our findings, and explain what comes next that will enable us to better conserve biodiversity in Australian waters.
Meet the Speaker
Jeremy Horowitz is a PhD student at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University. His PhD investigates the taxonomy and evolutionary history of Black Corals.