Cristina Castillo's blog

On Biodiversity: Understanding its Meaning and Importance

A Handful of Biodiversity

The ocean is home to a phenomenal diversity of marine organisms. They have evolved to inhabit warm waters near the equator and the icy waters of the Earth’s poles. Marine life takes advantage of the enormous volume the ocean comprises: from diatoms living near the sunny surface, to octopods living in the dark deep sea.

Ocean Trash: Marine Debris From Shore to Sea

Trash on the Beach and in the Ocean
Plastic Garbage Litters a Beach
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We drove down a long dirt road on the northern side of Curaçao looking for a remote place to snorkel and sample. After a 30-minute bumpy ride, our team stepped out of the car into a breeze and the sounds of wind and crashing waves. It’s a moment I will never forget; although no one was in sight for miles, the evidence of human activity was apparent. We had stepped onto a shoreline blanketed in garbage. 

Diving for Crabs in the Deep Sea

Searching for Crustaceans in the Deep Sea
Inside the Submarine

Last week, Smithsonian research zoologists Dr. Jerry Harasewych and Dr. Martha Nizinski were in Curaçao looking for deep-sea marine gastropods and decapod crustaceans, respectively.

A Sub and a Sea Toad

Sea Toad (Chaunax pictus)
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Have you ever seen a creature so unusual?  This fish (22 cm long) is called a sea toad and studying them requires luck and the opportunity to descend into the deep waters where they live.

Summer in a Sub: DROP Down to Discovery

Deep Reef Observation Project (DROP) Video

You never know where following your passions can take you. I came to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) two years ago as a research intern after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in biology. I never expected, two years later, to spend a summer working with scientists, sub pilots, and engineers to help document the biodiversity of marine life off of Curaçao, a small island in the southern Caribbean, just north of Venezuela. 

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