Curaçao is the perfect place for marine research. The reefs are considered to be some of the best the Caribbean basin has to offer. The island is located outside of the hurricane belt and the weather is perfect making Curaçao the ideal base for the research vessel Chapman and the Curasub submersible. Together they can travel to any desired destination and dive to the ocean floor where deep reefs can be studied.
Since the Substation Curaçao’s submarine and the research vessel Chapman started their operation, several institutions and organizations have become interested in this operation and the opportunities they represent. Our aim is to expand our activities and worldwide get more entities to make use of our facilities.
In 25 dives, the submarine has inventorised 90 fish species, of which 25% are new to science. In the field of invertebrates, shells and other marine life, researchers have also reported unexpected finds. They discovered for instance that slit shells that were believed to be fossils, still contained snails and were therefore very much alive. The discovery furthermore led to study of the neurotoxin fluid that the snail secretes to ward of predators. There is a distinct possibility that in future this fluid can play a role as an anesthetically important product.
At a depth of about 300 meters the crew of the submarine encountered over half of dozen torpedoes dating back to WWII. It is believed that these were training torpedoes that could not be detonated. Although they do not pose a threat to marine traffic, the (naval) authorities were informed of the find. On Bonaire the submarine crew discovered an ancient Spanish olive oil amphora and several old gin bottles. According to archeological experts the jar probably goes back to the year 1780. All finds, including the discoveries that are left untouched, are photographed and filmed.
The Ocean Heritage Foundation has created a database to secure acknowledgment in scientific papers. The foundation, the Curaçao Seaquarium and Substation will also start to figure and contribute in the world of marine science. The database will allow for effective documenting as well as safe archiving of scientific results an will be available for online access later this year.
Adrian ‘Dutch’ Schrier
D. Ross Robertson, Katie L. Cramer
Carole C. Baldwin, G. David Johnson – May 2014
Carole C. Baldwin, D. Ross Robertson – May 2014