Smithsonian Deep Reef Observation Project (DROP) scientists have spent six days exploring the diversity of marine life off northwest Dominica to depths of 300 m (1,000 ft.).
The scientific team comprised specialists of fishes, crabs and other crustaceans, sponges, corals, hydroids, mollusks, and algae. In six days of submersible diving, along with snorkeling or scuba diving on a few shallow sites, the team collected nearly 2,000 specimens of marine life for scientific study.
Among the collections are many apparently new species, lots of rare species, and numerous species not yet recorded from the eastern Caribbean. For most specimens, in addition to preserving the whole specimen for future scientific study, a small piece of the body was removed and preserved specifically for DNA analysis back in the Smithsonian’s Laboratory of Analytical Biology in Washington, DC. Detailed study of the preserved specimens and analysis of their DNA will help DROP biologists better understand exactly what species they collected.