The Deep Reef Observation Project (DROP) is a Smithsonian research program launched to explore marine life and monitor changes on deep reefs in the southern Caribbean. Found below SCUBA diving depths, deep reefs may represent the most diverse underexplored marine ecosystems in the world.
Shallow water coral reefs are in peril globally, but comparatively little is known about deep reefs, including what role they may play in the survival of shallow reefs above. Diving to 1,000 ft. in a state-of-the-art submersible is allowing Smithsonian marine scientists to visit deep reefs to study and monitor these ecosystems.
Since 2011 DROP has received funding from Smithsonian's Consortium for Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet, National Geographic's Committee for Research and Exploration Grant, Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the National Museum of Natural History and private donations.
DROP Blogs: Follow our "Summer in a Sub" and “Science with a Sub” blog series to learn more about Smithsonian marine research, unique deep reef species, and challenges of collecting with a submersible.
- A Voyage of Discovery to Inner Space
- On Biodiversity: Discovering its Meaning and Importance
- A Sub and a Sea Toad
- Diving for Crabs in the Deep Sea
- Searching for Cancer Drugs in the Ocean
- Uncovering Biodiversity Before it Disappears
- Ocean Trash: Marine Debris from Shore to Sea
Coral Reef Photo Blog - Follow the blog of avid underwater photographer Barry B. Brown. He has spent years documenting life above and below water in Curacao. His blog is continually updated with stunning images of organisms collected with the submersible and other marine life found in shallower waters.
IN THE NEWS
Washington Post: Deep reef ‘twilight zones’ slowly yield their secrets to explorers, by Brian Vastag
National Geographic Weekend Radio interview with Boyd Matson. DROP Principal Investigator Dr. Carole Baldwin talks about the discovery of new fish species found off the coast of Curaçao with the Curasub submersible.
History Channel: Ocean as Lab Series - In this Ocean as Lab video, Dr. Carole Baldwin talks about exploring deep-reef ecosystems. Knowing what lives in these underexplored areas and understanding how it is changing over time may be critical to preserving tropical coral reef ecosystems worldwide. This video and other Ocean as Lab videos can be seen in the Sant Ocean Hall at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
EOL Curacao Deep Reef Collection - Visit our virtual collection on the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) to see some of the beautiful and unique species collected by our scientists in Curaçao.