Past Research Projects

Costa Rica Expedition

Map and Habitat pictures from Costa Rica Expedition in 2009

Costa Rica Expedition (2009-2010)

In 2009 and 2010 SIO (Chief Scientist: Prof. Lisa Levin) led the first submersible expeditions to the continental margin area near Costa Rica focusing on the biological diversity of methane-driven carbonate ecosystems. These carbonate rocky habitats are generated by the anaerobic oxidation of methane by Archaea and Bacteria. This chemosynthesis also allows a diversity of animals to exist there, quite distinct from those in surrounding sediments. The investigations were conducted at seven locations on the Costa Rica margin (997-2209 m) in February 2009 and January 2010.

Hundreds of invertebrate specimens were collected during the two expeditions, with the majority are deposited to the Scripps Benthic Invertebrate Collection.

Based on DNA sequencing data, more than a 40 new species were found (worms, shrimps, crabs, clams, mussels, snails, black coral and other invertebrates) and are currently being named.

The expedition allows to answer questions on  1) Biological affinities between Costa Rica Seep fauna and other deep-sea, hard-substrate and reducing faunas, including those from hydrothermal vents and whale bones, and 2) Biological uniqueness of the Costa Rica Seeps.

Hydrate Ridge Expedition (2010-2011)