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Aquarius 2010: Science Programs
Lead Scientists: Peter Auster, Ph.D. and James Lindholm, Ph.D
Everyone has heard about competition and predation in the natural world; animals eat each other. Yet sometimes animals such as coral reef fishes actually work together to feed as a group, a behavior called "social foraging". Which fishes engage in this behavior? Where do they do it? And how does social foraging affect the diversity of fishes on a coral reef? The Doctors Auster and Lindholm continue their investigation into the curious world of social foraging as part of the "Aquarius 2010: If Reefs Could Talk II" mission. To learn more about this exciting research check out the Oct. 14th noon (EDT) show from Aquarius!
Long-Term Monitoring of Biodiversity and Cryptic Species
Lead Scientist: Steve Gittings, Ph.D.
Some species, like the brittle star, are called "cryptic species", they spend much of their time hiding from predators and well-designed to do so. By observing a single study site repeatedly over time, Dr. Gittings and his team have found that the number of brittle stars near the Aquarius Reef Base is changing. But how, why, and what does this mean for the health and future of the reef? Returning to the site during this mission, Dr. Gittings hopes to offer new insights into the condition of the reef. To learn more about cryptic species and reef monitoring, check out the Oct. 16th noon (EDT) show from Aquarius!
Testing 3-D Fish Tracking Through Echosounding
Lead Scientists: Chris Taylor, Ph.D and John Burke, Ph.D.
Echosound technology is a promising new technique that samples fish populations from the surface through high-resolution acoustic imaging. This approach provides critical new insight into fish behavior, particularly at night, when diver surveys are least effective!. In this important test of methods, acoustic data will be compared to the information gathered by the aquanauts to determine the effectiveness of echosounding as a tool for studying underwater communities. To learn more about this innovative work, check out the Oct. 15th noon (EDT) show from Aquarius!
Invasive species: Lionfish and Orange Cup Corals
Invasive species are rapidly becoming common in marine environments around the world. In the Florida Keys, two of the most recent entrants to the ecosystem are Lionfish and orange cup corals, both of which are native to the Pacific Ocean. One of the primary advantages of diving from Aquarius is the many hours that the Aquanauts can spend swimming around the reef. During the mission, while out conducting the other projects described above, Aquanauts will record any sightings of two invasive species, noting how many they see, where they are, and what they are doing there. To learn more about this work, check out the Oct. 16th noon (EDT) show from Aquarius!