Uncovering the Marine Biodiversity of Cocos Island, Costa Rica
Tropical marine nearshore environments are among the most complex and biodiverse ecosystems on the planet, providing an estimated 100 million people with coastal protection, career opportunities, and economic and natural resources. However, this habitat is threatened on a global scale, and is diminishing at an alarming rate as a result of anthropogenic impacts such as pollution, overfishing, habitat destruction, and global warming. These impacts jeopardize resident biodiversity, and make it critical for scientists to increase their efforts to study and protect these important ecosystems. Conventional study methods, such as SCUBA, focus only on depths shallower than 30m, leaving as much as 80% of the nearshore marine environment largely unexplored. This project aimed to conduct an assessment of the biodiversity of fishes found at Cocos Island, Costa Rica using SCUBA and the three-person submersible, Deep See. Quantitative and qualitative surveys of the transition zone down to 300m were completed to determine species richness at various depths.