Rhian Waller, a deep-sea and polar ecologist at the University of Maine, recently traveled to the Huinay Scientific Field Station near the fjords of Chile to collect corals. The species Waller studies normally grow at depths that are hard to reach without a submersible vehicle, but because of the phenomenon of deep-water emergence — areas where animals are living in much more shallow levels than their usual distribution — she was able for the first time to see up close some of the species in their habitat. Waller, whose trip was funded by National Geographic and who also has funding from the National Science Foundation and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, traveled to Chile with Chris Rigaud, who runs UMaine’s Scientific Diving program. Through a slideshow of images take in Chile, Waller talks about what she saw in the fjords.
For more information about Waller’s research, go to umaine.edu/news/blog/2012/08/22/on-the-hunt-for-deep-sea-corals. A National Geographic Explorers biography page also has more information about Waller.