Scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution will join this spring’s SEA Semester: Marine Biodiversity and Conservation (MBC) program on a special collaboration to explore the ocean’s mesopelagic or twilight zone, further augmenting one of SEA’s most advanced scientific undergraduate programs.
This collaboration will leverage SEA’s repeat oceanographic voyages through the high seas of the North Atlantic, and will involve SEA Semester students in novel genetic techniques to explore biodiversity in the ocean twilight zone – located 200 to 1000 meters below the surface and described as one of the Earth’s hidden frontiers.
Dr. Kerry Whittaker, SEA assistant professor of oceanography, is chief scientist for the Marine Biodiversity & Conservation program. She will be joined on campus by two members of WHOI’s Ocean Twilight Zone project, Dr. Annette Govindarajan, WHOI research specialist, and Dr. Porter Hoagland, senior research specialist at WHOI’s Marine Policy Center. Hoagland is a visiting professor of ocean and coastal policy at SEA and taught at last year’s MBC program and will sail aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer from Bermuda to New York City. Also on board will be Rene Francolini, WHOI research assistant in Gonvindarjan’s Lab, who will conduct mesopelagic eDNA sampling.
“SEA has sampled extensively in the ocean twilight zone, but there’s still so much to explore,” said Dr. Paul Joyce, dean at SEA. “We’re excited to work with leading scientists from WHOI and to expand our range of offering for our students. This collaboration allows our students to engage in cutting-edge research and analysis, and to contribute meaningfully to our understanding of the mesopelagic zone.”
“I’m also looking forward to introducing a cohort of talented students to our partners at WHOI, and to WHOI’s participation in the MBC Symposium at the culmination of the program,” added Joyce.