Deep Reef Observation Project (DROP): a Smithsonian-substation Curacao collaboration
Scientists have studied shallow Caribbean reefs for more than a century. In contrast tropical mesophotic and deep reefs, which are below the depths accessible by traditional scuba gear and above the depths typically visited by deep-diving submersibles, are underexplored ocean ecosystems that science has largely missed. Little is known about the diversity of life on deep reefs, how it changes over space and time, and what role deep reefs may play in the survival of shallow reefs above. Shallow reefs are in peril circumtropically but what is the status of deep reefs? Are water temperatures on deep reefs rising and are these ecosystems exhibiting degradation and loss from major agents of environmental impact? Are shallow reef inhabitants moving deeper in response to warming surface waters? Are deep-reef populations re-seeding shallow populations that have been impacted by reef demise?