Hawai'i Undersea Research Laboratory launches deep-sea animal ID guideUniversity of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Outreach Coordinator, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology
Dr. Christopher Kelley, (808) 956-7437
HURL Biologist, Oceanography
According to HURL Biologist Christopher Kelley, “only in situ images are included in the guide in order to show how beautiful and unique the animals are when seen alive and in their natural habitat.” The guide is organized according to major taxa and identifications are made following consultation with taxonomists specializing in these groups. Kelley hopes no one will be intimidated by the scientific names, which are necessary since many of the animals don’t have familiar common names. “HURL simply wants people to appreciate the amazing variety of life forms that exist in deeper waters around Hawai‘i,” he adds. Each image is tagged with a color that indicates the depth at which the representative photo was taken.
Now that the guide is online, communication with taxonomists and specialists is easier than ever before since they can provide feedback and/or corrections directly from the website. Kelley has already received a request to use some of the images in the online Encyclopedia of Life and to present a link to the guide at the upcoming Deep Coral Symposium in Amsterdam. Fishermen in Hawai‘i may also find it useful when they catch something unusual that they haven’t seen before. HURL is planning to add some simple keys to the guide that will make it easier to search for images of particular species.
The Hawai‘i Undersea Research Lab operates the Pisces IV and Pisces V submersibles, two of only eight human occupied submersibles in the world that can dive deeper than 1500 meters (~5000 feet). These submersibles provide the ability for people to explore, discover and study the unique ecosystems, endangered habitats, life-sustaining marine processes, and other wonders of the deep ocean floor – up close and in person. “We've been around for over three decades and have developed the equipment, personnel, and local knowledge of the study areas important to scientists and marine managers,” said HURL Director John Wiltshire.
Over the past 30 years HURL's accomplishments include long-term studies of Lō‘ihi submarine volcano and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Notable discoveries include an historically significant Japanese midget submarine and deep-sea corals that are some of the oldest living organisms on Earth. Work in the newest U.S. Marine National Monuments led to an international five-month investigation throughout the central and southwestern Pacific that involved 58 scientists from 12 research entities and included the first submersible dives on 13 different undersea volcanoes. A new 6000-m capable ROV will further enable exploration of NOAA’s four new Marine National Monuments in the Pacific.
More information about HURL is available at their website: http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/HURL.
HURL Operations Contact: Dr. John Wiltshire, HURL Director, (808) 956-6802, HURL-Dir@soest.hawaii.edu