Features » Cruise sets out to unlock Secrets of the Deep

Coral fuzz Algoa anenomes Secret reef


Deep reefs and the communities that inhabit them are difficult environments to access and questions about how these reefs function have remained unanswered for a long time. Recent advances in underwater video and photographic techniques are now enabling researchers to access these environments and unlock some of their secrets.

Deep Secrets is a project of NRF-SAIAB’s multi-disciplinary African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme (ACEP), led by Dr Kerry Sink of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), which is exploring the outer shelf and slope ecosystems along the Eastern Cape coast. The project aims to develop multi-disciplinary offshore research capacity and knowledge to support improved management of poorly studied outer shelf, shelf edge and upper bathyal ecosystems of the Agulhas Ecoregion.

From 26 September-27October 2016 the Deep Secrets Cruise on the R/V Algoa explored the study area from Cape Town to the Kei River in the 200–700 m depth range, covering several Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) proposed by Operation Phakisa.

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Cruise map Zoleka Filander (l) Kerry Sink (r) Deep Secrets team