Jan. 7, 1998 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 Online, the network's award-winning web site (http://www.discovery.com), is featuring a complete dispatch and photos from Friday's visit. Photos of Castro's visit may be downloaded for press usage from a special FTP site, at the web address ftp.discovery.com]. To access the photos, your special user name is [dcimm0] and the password is [lens$cap]. Captions for each photo are also available at the FTP site as text files. All photos downloaded must be credited Discovery Channel Online/Bill Belleville.
Several members of this expedition including Dr. Gilmore and Dr. John McCosker evolutionary biologist with the California Academy of Sciences, along with renowned underwater cinematographer Al Giddings (Titanic, The Abyss) also participated in Discovery Channel's acclaimed 1995 expedition to the Galapagos Islands, which uncovered more than two dozen new marine animals.
Discovery Channel is one of the United States' three largest cable television networks, serving 72.6 million households across the nation with the finest in informative entertainment. Discovery Networks, a division of Discovery Communications, Inc., operates and manages Discovery Channel, TLC The Learning Channel) and Animal Planet.
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The above story is based on materials provided by Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution.
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