Author: Emily Clark
When Luiz Rocha, a fish biologist at the California Academy of Sciences, goes scuba diving, he tacks on one and a half times his body weight in specialized diving gear. Once he submerges, he can’t spare a moment to take in the vibrant corals just beneath the surface — he has greater depths to plumb.
Rocha is headed toward what Smithsonian Institution fish biologist Carole Baldwin calls “a very diverse and productive portion of the tropical ocean that science has largely missed”: mesophotic reefs. “Mesophotic” is Greek for “middle light,” referring to the intermediate amount of sunlight that can penetrate to depths of 30 to 150 meters (100 to 500 feet) below the ocean’s surface.