Join Cal Academy Science Hero Dr. Pim Bongaerts as he takes us on a journey to the ocean’s “twilight zone”, the shadowy and little-known mesophotic reefs—located 100 to 500 feet beneath the ocean’s surface. Dr. Bongaerts is a co-leader of the Academy’s “Hope for Reefs” initiative, with extensive experience studying these ecosystems in both the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific.
Over the past decades the majority of research attention has focused on shallow coral reefs (<100 feet). However, coral communities extend much deeper, and for example on the Great Barrier Reef they are estimated to occupy a similar surface area to that of the shallow reef areas. Yet, these deeper coral ecosystems remain largely undocumented, poorly understood in terms of their ecology, and are usually not considered in conservation planning.
Dr. Bongaerts will share some of the advanced research and exploration tools his team has been working with - from submersibles to genomics and photogrammetry - and the progress they are making in understanding the biodiversity and vulnerability of these ecosystems - searching for the secrets these uncharted places may hold for the survival of the world’s coral reefs.