West Coast
via Ocean Exploration Trust

CA - Scientists to Study Biodiversity and Pharmaceutical Potential on Seafloor off California

Viewers can tune in live to watch trio of Scripps Oceanography researchers and their students explore the deep ocean

Three scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego will lead a cruise off Southern California beginning Oct. 27 to explore the biodiversity of deep sea habitats that are rich in minerals like phosphorus and manganese. Their goal is to document the life forms inhabiting these unique environments and assess their potential to yield chemical substances with pharmaceutical potential.

The public will be able to see what the scientists see in real time when the researchers guide a remotely operated vehicle as it explores the ocean floor, collecting specimens of marine life and samples of mineral-rich rock and sediment.

“Surprisingly, there are still areas off Southern California where marine life remains unexplored,” said lead scientist and Scripps biological oceanographer Lisa Levin. “We think it is important to understand the biodiversity of seafloor life associated with these different minerals that are increasingly targeted for mining by society, prior to decisions about exploitation.”

“This includes the microbes that inhabit these sites,” which represent an important component of the ecosystem and a potential source of new pharmaceuticals, added Jensen.

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