Written by Natasha Chatlein.
Discover Curaçao from a completely different vantage point: at a depth of 1,000 feet in a submarine! Curasub, as the submarine is called, descends four times a day from its launching pad at Bapor Kibrá to depths that are unreachable for scuba divers. The Curasub is a high-tech machine that can be outfitted with different tools and research instrumentation, with standard specialized equipment such as manipulator arms, sonar scanners and suction devices. Substation Curaçao describes the Curasub as “the world’s most spectacular certified mini-submarine for tourists.”
But it does not stop at trips for tourists. Due to its ability to travel to greater depths than divers are able to reach, the submarine has proven invaluable in scientific (marine) research: marine biology, underwater geology, biochemistry and underwater archaeology are just some of the areas of scientific research that are being done with the Curasub.
Since I can be a total nerd at times, I couldn’t help but become super excited upon reading that the director of the prestigious Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC is currently in Curaçao to support our dushi island’s inclusion in the Smithsonian’s global marine biodiversity network of coastal monitoring sites!!! The museum is part of the Smithsonian Institute, which is referred to as “the world’s preeminent museum and research complex”. To give you an idea of what caliber of museum we are talking about when we say “The Smithsonian”, the following:
The museum has
– an annual federal budget of US$68 million;
– 460 employees
– more than 126 million specimens and artifacts
– an average of 7 million visitors per year
– in-house scientists that publish 500 scientific research contributions per year
And they want to do their research on our little Curaçao. Which reminds us yet again the kinds of valuable resources we have.
The Smithsonian Deep Reef Observation Project (DROP) is researching tropical deep reefs (30 to 300 meters). A copious amount of research has been done on shallow coral reefs, but not so much on deep reef; this is the research gap DROP is aiming to fill. It is suspected that the health of deep reefs is directly interconnected to the health and survival of shallow coral reefs. Multi-year scientific research and data is necessary to aid in future designation of our deep reefs as marine-protected areas on a high level. Curacao, with its relatively easily accessible deep reefs due to the rapidly sloping bottom to great depths close to shore, as well as shallow reefs that are in good condition compared to other Caribbean spots, is an ideal location for DROP’s research.
I’m going for a ride in the Curasub in December. Who’s in? In the meantime, I’ll have to make do with a virtual ride on their SubCam: http://www.seesubmarine.com/