As much as coral reefs have captured the interest of scientists and the public, little is known about reefs that occur more than 200 feet below the surface.  These mesophotic, or “middle light,” reefs are the interest of Carole Baldwin, curator of fishes at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

Baldwin has been studying such reefs in the Caribbean Sea and searching for new fish species.  While marine life in the Caribbean has been well surveyed, mesophotic reefs have not.  Much of this knowledge gap is a result of the difficulty of visiting such ocean depths, which are generally too deep for scuba diving.  Discovering multiple new species in the Caribbean was “a huge surprise,” Baldwin said.  “Everyone thought, ‘Been there, done that.’ ”

Baldwin’s efforts were chronicled in an article published by the Washington Post on 31 October 2011.  Read the article at http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/deep-reef-twilight-zones-slowly-yield-their-secrets-to-explorers/2011/09/22/gIQATnuwZM_story.html.