Coastal Sustainability Institute > Education > Documenting an array of coastal species in Mexico

Documenting an array of coastal species in Mexico

A massive Nassau grouper, four species of black corals, and a spotted drum fish were among the aquatic treasures Northeastern divers found on a recent expedition to Cozumel, Mexico. The drum fish was an especially lucky discovery—drums are nocturnal feeders that rarely leave the protection of shelter during the day.

Northeastern students and research staff were scouting new locations to collect samples for the Ocean Genome Legacy, a repository of more than 25,000 marine DNA samples that preserves endangered species that may one day go extinct.

The team’s mission was threefold: find out what diversity exists in the surrounding ocean, meet with locals who could assist with research, and determine what permits are needed to collect samples in the Mexico-regulated waters. The mission lays the groundwork for Northeastern students and researchers to plan future expeditions to Cozumel.

During the four-day expedition, the team conducted species identification surveys and found a rich array of fish, coral, macro algae, sponges, and invertebrates.

The team included undergraduate marine biology major Jaxon Derow, who shot underwater photos to document species in the area. Derow has been scuba diving for a decade, and taking photos of his dives for nearly as long. His goal is to become a conservation photographer.

“I want to use photography to advocate for policy change,” Derow says. “This was a really cool step in that direction.”

Author: CSI Staff