FIU students descend on Aquarius

All Marine Sciences students, the quartet are each exploring unique fields of research that study the reef ecosystem. Two of the students, Laura Bhatti and Andy Shantz, represent professor Deron Burkepile’s lab.

“One of the coolest things about the Aquarius mission for me is that 10 years ago this week, I was doing my first mission as a grad student,” Burkepile said. “Now I have two grad students down there as part of a mission.”

Bhatti and Shantz are joined by Mark Barton from professor Kevin Boswell’s lab and Christian Lopes from professor James Fourqurean’s lab. Lopes is the only undergraduate taking up residence in Aquarius this week.

“We’re trying to understand how the recovery of large predators like grouper, barracuda and sharks affect the behavior of the other fishes on a reef,” Burkepile said. “Aquarius is such a good place to do this because, first it gives us a huge bonus of time we can spend on the reef at these depths. Second, Aquarius is a marine protected area. The area around Aquarius is closed to all other activities besides the science that happens from Aquarius. So there are lots of big grouper, snapper, barracuda, snook, and jacks on the reefs around Aquarius. Its a great place to start to understand how the ecology of fear impacts the ecology of reefs.”

For the full FIU News Story please click here.

Please see below for pictures of this FIU Student-led Saturation Mission!

Students diving outside habitat Students diving outside habitat

Students at night inside Aquarius saturation mission Students at night inside Aquarius saturation mission

night diver Night diving

communicating with base Communicating with base from inside Aquarius

grad student skying with school-kids FIU Graduate students skyping with school-kids from around the country!

A big thank you to this mission's sponsors!