RP, US Scientists Team Up For Mindanao Expedition

October 1, 2007 at 7:59 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 01, 2007) – A group of Filipino and US scientists have teamed up to search for new species of marine life in the unexplored waters of Mindanao in the southern Philippines.

The expedition, composed of eight Filipinos and five Americans, headed for the Celebes Sea, which is home of the richest marine biodiversity in the world, the US Embassy in Manila said.

It said the National Geographic is also on board the expedition and plans to make an hour-long television program along with a feature article in the National Geographic Magazine.

The explorers are on the research vessel Hydrographer Presbitero, operated by the Philippine National Mapping and Resource Information Authority. The expedition, which began September 27 is expected to end on October 16.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) also said the expedition seeks to search of the strange, and possibly unknown, fishes, jellyfish, squids and shrimp that live in the dark deep waters of the Celebes Sea.

The Celebes plunges to over 5,000 meters, and in these waters there may well be species that have evolved in isolation from other surrounding waters, waiting to be discovered with modern exploration tools, it said.

“The Celebes Sea is unlike anywhere else on the planet. With a shallow rim that protects it from deep-running, frigid currents, it is one of the few deep ocean areas filled with warmer water. Scientists believe these depths may resemble the oceans of 25 million years ago, and no one knows what unimaginable creatures could be lurking there,” the NOAA said.

The area is in the so-called “coral triangle” of Southeast Asia. This region, including the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, is known to have the highest species diversity of shallow water marine animals.

The scientists will also use a remote-operated vehicle that can dive to 3,000 meters where it can take high-definition video and still pictures, and collect specimens to bring back for study.

Dr. Greg Stone, New England Aquarium scientist, said the exploration is a partnership between the NOAA, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and National Geographic Magazine.

All samples of marine species, videos, images and data from the expedition would help scientists understand the biological composition and the nature of the deep mid-water environment of the Celebes Sea, and compare it with what is known about other deep-sea regions around the world.

Mindanao and the Sulu regions are rich in marine resources. (Mindanao Examiner)

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