New fish species discovered near Caribbean Curaçao


This 20 March 2018 video is about the new fish species discovered in the new ocean zone called rariphotic.

From the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute:

New deep reef ocean zone, the rariphotic, teeming with new fish species

New zone comprises reef fishes –including numerous new species — that live well below shallow coral reefs

March 20, 2018

Summary: Diving down below the range of scuba in the Curasub, Smithsonian deep reef explorers discovered a new world where roughly half of the fish had no names. They are calling it the rariphotic.

Based on the unique fish fauna observed from a manned submersible on a southern Caribbean reef system in Curaçao, Smithsonian explorers defined a new ocean-life zone, the rariphotic, between 130 and 309 meters (about 400 to 1,000 feet) below the surface. The rariphotic occurs just below a previously defined reef zone, the mesophotic, which extends from about 40 to as deep as 150 meters (about 120-450 feet). The role of this new zone as a refuge for shallower reef fishes seeking relief from warming surface waters or deteriorating coral reefs is still unclear.

The initial motivation for studying deep-reef ecosystems was the declining health of shallow reefs. Many researchers wonder if deeper reef areas, sometimes known as the “coral reef twilight zone”, might act as refuges for shallow-water organisms. As the Smithsonian researchers sought to answer this question, it became clear to them that scientists have only scratched the surface when it comes to understanding the biodiversity of reef fishes.

“It’s estimated that 95 percent of the livable space on our planet is in the ocean”, said Carole Baldwin, curator of fishes at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, lead author of the study and director of the Smithsonian’s Deep Reef Observation Project (DROP). “Yet only a fraction of that space has been explored. That’s understandable for areas that are thousands of miles offshore and miles deep. But tropical deep reefs are just below popular, highly studied shallow reefs — essentially our own back yards. And tropical deep reefs are not barren landscapes on the deep ocean floor: they are highly diverse ecosystems that warrant further study. We hope that by naming the deep-reef rariphotic zone, we’ll draw attention to the need to continue to explore deep reefs.”

The authors defined the rariphotic based on depth observations of about 4,500 fishes representing 71 species during approximately 80 submersible dives to as deep as 309 meters. Most of the fishes in the rariphotic zone not only look similar to shallow reef fishes but are related to them rather than to true deep-ocean fishes, which belong to quite different branches of the evolutionary tree. This research showed that assemblages of the kinds of reef-fishes that inhabit shallow water in fact have double the depth range they were previously thought to have.

Since 2011, when DROP began, more than 40 researchers, most from the National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), have intensively studied deep-reef fishes and invertebrates off Curaçao. They named six new genera and about 30 new species as they explored a 0.2 square kilometer (0.08 square mile) area of reef, much of which is too deep for enough light to penetrate to support the algal symbionts on which reef-building corals rely.

“About one in every five fish we’re finding in the rariphotic of the Caribbean is a new species,” said D. Ross Robertson, marine biologist at STRI and a co-author of the study. “So far, my favorite is Haptoclinus dropi“. It was named by Baldwin and Robertson in 2013 for the Smithsonian’s DROP research project. Many more new species already discovered by DROP researchers await description.

While SCUBA divers can work down to about 40 meters (120 feet), the Curasub mini-submarine plunges to 309 meters (about 1,000 feet), where it can stay submerged for up to eight hours at normal atmospheric pressure, enabling the passengers to simply step ashore after a dive. This technology has significantly extended scientists’ ability to explore deep reefs.

Based on their research on reef fishes, the Smithsonian researchers and co-author Luke Tornabene (assistant professor at the University of Washington and former Smithsonian post-doctoral fellow) present a new classification of coral-reef faunal zones:

  • Altiphotic (high light): The new name for the previously unnamed 0-40 meters (0-120 feet), the well-lit zone where reef corals are abundant, which extends as deep as conventional scuba divers normally go.
  • Mesophotic (medium light): 40 to as deep as 150 meters (120-450 feet), the maximum depth at which tropical reef-building corals and their algal symbionts can survive.
  • Rariphotic (low light): Newly discovered faunal zone from 130-300 meters (400-1,000 feet), below the reef-building coral zone, and as deep as Curasub can go.
  • Deep aphotic (effectively no light): Below 300 meters (below 1,000 feet)

“Reef ecosystems just below the mesophotic are globally underexplored, and the conventional view based on the few studies that mention them was that mesophotic ecosystems transition directly into those of the deep sea“, Baldwin said. “Our study reveals a previously unrecognized zone comprising reef vs. deep-sea fishes that links mesophotic and deep-sea ecosystems.”

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Fundamentalist preacher raped many girls


The Rains of Blessings church, photo by Dick Drayer/NOS

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

18 years in prison asked for in Curaçao‘s biggest abuse scandal

Today, 4:40 PM

A 54-year-old pastor on Curaçao must go to prison for 18 years, as far as the Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM) is concerned. He will also not be able to lead a church for 20 years. The pastor is said to have abused churchgoers on a large scale. His youngest victim was 11 years old. The abuse began in 2003.

It is the biggest abuse case that Curaçao has ever known. By the end of 2015, more than a year ago, one girl was brave enough to report against the pastor and leader of the Rains of Blessings Church.

Then the reports came in. Also from the Netherlands where there are branches of the church in Tilburg, The Hague, Rotterdam and Amsterdam. More than twenty cases became known. Ten of them were on trial on Wednesday. The victims were also present. Their statements were read.

Exorcism

The pastor raped the girls under the pretext of devil exorcism. He scared them by saying they were possessed by demons he had put into their bodies. He would wake them up if they would say anything about the abuse.

Orlando B. drugged his victims and used a lot of violence. Some girls woke up while they were covered with blood. One of the victims became pregnant five times, after which he brought her to a doctor and paid for the abortions. After the abuse he gave money to the girls to buy a morning-after pill. The pastor claimed the right to remain silent.

Dutch church sexton suspect of abusing young girl: here.

Curaçao coral reefs video


This 1 February 2017 Dutch video is about biology student Auke-Florian Hiemstra, doing research about coral around Curaçao island.

Corals may get temporary reprieve from bleaching: here.

Curaçao sharks and cattle


This Dutch video is about sharks around the Caribbean island Curaçao, and cattle in Dutch nature reserve Klompenwaard.

Curaçao school children learn about sharks


This 20 December 2016 Dutch language video is about school children on the Caribbean island Curaçao learning from the Save Our Sharks organisation about sharks.