Discovery Channel Returns From Underwater Scientific Expedition Off The Coast Of Cuba

Crew of scientists received a surprise visit from Cuban President Fidel Castro

A team of internationally renowned scientists and researchers returns today from a month-long deep sea scientific expedition off the coast of Cuba. The expedition of these unchartered, pristine waters in a high-tech submersible vehicle was designed to look for new species, explore the massive coral reefs on the coastal shelf (the first outsiders since the mid-1950s to do so), and dive the sea bottom amid shipwrecks from the past. The expedition and the resulting discoveries will be the subject of two Discovery Channel one-hour documentaries tentatively titled FORBIDDEN DEPTHS (WT) and slated to air on Discovery Channel in early 1999.

Led by Dr. Grant Gilmore of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, a group of American scientists and ichthyologists participated in this cooperative research mission along with a team of Cuban scientists aboard the research vessel SEWARD JOHNSON. The scientists made numerous dives in a sophisticated, deep-sea submersible known as the JOHNSON-SEA-LINK, which is capable of diving up to 3,000 feet below the water's surface. The crew used the latest in digital cameras to record their deep-sea dives.

The team of scientists announced that they found four brand new species that never been seen before and 26 species of fish that have never before been seen in Cuban waters. In addition, they were able to document changes in aquatic communities and study invertebrates that may have significance in providing drugs for the cure of human disease.

On Friday, January 2, the crew of the SEWARD JOHNSON received a surprise visit from Cuban President Fidel Castro. Castro has long been interested in underwater expedition and he spent two hours on the boat talking with the scientists about their findings and about the issues of underwater conservation.

Discovery Channel

Contact: Susan Hanson
561-465-2400 x 206
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution

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