Expedition to explore deep reefs off Dominica

The submarine Curasub will be part of the expedition
The submarine Curasub will be part of the expedition

On Friday, February 19, 2016 the Curacao owned, based and operated Research Vessel and submarine tender RV Chapman will leave the harbor of Willemstad and start out for the island of Dominica, in the Eastern Caribbean. The 137ft long Chapman will be carrying a total of 17 crew members and passengers. Also on board will be the Curasub, the 5 person submersible operated by Substation Curacao. As in any responsible operation, the ship will be carrying auxiliary boats; at least 3 will be carried along during the passage to Dominica.

The reason for the at least month long expedition to Dominica, led by Curacao Sea Aquarium director Adrian “Dutch” Schrier, is twofold. On the one hand, the trip to Dominica has been designed around a large group of marine scientists. They will be using the Curasub to explore the deep reefs off Dominica, from 200 feet to 1000 feet, in search of new species. The secondary reason is that Substation Curacao and STIMACUR, the foundation for Marine Archaeology Curaçao, have teamed up. These entities will be venturing into the deep reefs off the northwestern coast of Dominica to document and map known deep water anchorage sites and possible archeological findings.

In order to conduct this marine research about a dozen scientists of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History will be flying to Dominica mid-March. They will be accommodated in the staterooms on board the Chapman. For those passengers preferring lodgings on shore, comfortable cottages will be available.

For this group of scientists this will not be their first encounter with the Chapman and the Curasub, as these entities have a long standing scientific relationship dating back to 2011. This partnership has so far yielded over 35 new species of fish, sponges and invertebrates, not to mention the highly successful Deep Reef Observation Program (DROP) launched to explore marine life and monitor changes on deep reefs in the southern Caribbean.

Documenting and mapping of deep reef locations where archeological artifacts and even old shipwrecks might be present, will take place at the request of the island government of Dominica. The authorities have over the last couple of years built up a close working relationship with STIMACUR and especially their leader Mr. François van der Hoeven. Partnering with each other in a joint Marine Archeological Expedition, the Dominican government, RV Chapman, Substation Curacao and STIMACUR are now hoping to discover historical nautical sites and uncover century’s old ships that went down as a result of fierce tropical storms and hurricanes or perished hundreds of years ago during naval battles and attacks by pirates.

For setting the Curasub, as well as all the auxiliary vessels overboard, the Chapman is equipped with a 110 ton Fassi crane and onboard camera equipment able to document all goings on in and on the ship. To facilitate the research work on board the research vessel, Dutch Schrier furthermore had the research vessel outfitted with air-conditioned wet and dry labs. In the spacious and comfortable lounge a state of the art audio/visual system will guarantee that all aboard will be able to fully enjoy the videos and pictures of the day’s archeological and scientific endeavors because all submarine trips will be recorded via constant high definition cameras and this film material will be used to create a documentation of all exploratory work on Dominica.

Apart from lauded marine biologists and scientists from the Smithsonian Institution, the Chapman will additionally receive visiting researchers from Dutch universities, like the University of Wageningen, and other scientific institutes. These researchers have been doing deep sea studies with the Chapman and the Curasub in Curaçao and Bonaire and would like to compare the deep reef situation in Curaçao and Bonaire waters with those in the Dominica waters.

The trip to Dominica is expected to take about 2.5 to 3 days. So leaving the harbor of Curacao on the 19th would set the research ship to reach the southwest part of the island and its capital Roseau around the 22nd of February, where the ship initially dock at the Fisheries Dock before continuing on northbound to Prince Rupert Bay around the 26th. Dominica dignitaries have already announced that they are very much looking forward to the arrival of the Chapman, the Curasub and their subsequent crews.

Original article here.

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  1. crime victim
    February 16, 2016

    Seaborne ventures abandoned millions in equipment …what did they find?
    must have been very valuable.
    No one knows as there was no superviosion.

    doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past if you dont remember it.

  2. Donkey
    February 15, 2016

    Dominicans so full of conspiracy theories, woy. Some of these comments are just embarrassing….You know these kinds of trips are common in seas and oceans around the world, right? Why is it that everything is a big secret plan for some people? Sometimes, shady things are going on in truth, yes, but there are hundreds of documentaries and books you can find for yourself online about submersible research like the above. But, then again, that would actually require you to do research, and the conspiratorial mind would much rather not do any of that.

  3. Malgraysa
    February 15, 2016

    To operate such a vessel even for one day costs a lot of money, which Dominica does not have. There is only one party I can think of that has an interest in ensuring that Prince Rupert Bay is free of obstacles and hazards to large ocean going vessels. That would be China and it is my belief that the Dominican govt. is acting by proxy on their behalf. I am of the opinion that our P.M. has made a deal with Chinese interests to make Portsmouth, with its natural harbour, available to the Chinese as a transition facility, perhaps combined with light industry/chemical processing for further regional distribution, perhaps with a separate legal status as a tax free zone with its own management.. It would not be too far fetched to think that in future ordinary Dominicans would need a special pass to enter that zone.

    February 13, 2016

    This is a great undertaking… it can also be a great addition to a possible national museum and add to Dominica’s standing in the world in a historical context.

    • Tjebe Fort
      February 15, 2016

      Museum, garcon Lennox could have done that at Fort Shirley but even the one we have in town is crumbling down even if Lennox try to keep it going. But he gone to Barbados now I believe in disappointment and disgust because of what Skrit is planning for the Cabrits. He may well feel betrayed you know Maybe it is sold already, God only knows what deal he made with that Ng Lap Seng fellow.I don’t know because Ihavenotreadyet.

  5. Memory
    February 13, 2016

    Zed, I know you mean well but on that matter you know not, there was already a company called seaborne venture
    Who were given permission to dive in our waters even with submarines, these people and the then interim
    Government are the ones who benefited. All this happened after the over throw of the Patrick John government.
    So yes people must be concern after all what have been going on in and out of Dominica by our government.

  6. Memory
    February 13, 2016

    Is this another one like The Sea Borne Venture project? When in the interim government
    gave the sea Borne venture company permission to go diving in the waters of Dominica
    For lost treasures in the sea. Dominica have yet to receive anything of value from those
    adventures, yes there was one Dominican on a few of those dives with them,when concerned citizens
    Voiced their opinion, about witnesses of those adventures this guy have since passed.
    We must be vigilant because in the waters off Dominica there is a lot of wealth.
    Hey a diver went so deep in a submarine he had to be taken to Barbados to be
    decompressed. Look out people do not let them take the majority of the SPOILS
    of the sea off Dominica.
    If you read The Dominica Story by Lennox HonneyChurch you will have an idea of the
    spoils in our waters. Be vigilant on this project.

    • zoozoo
      April 26, 2020

      hello memory i am interested in finding out more about this expedition that went on in 1980, did the villagers witness the salvaging?

  7. Pedro
    February 12, 2016
  8. zed
    February 12, 2016

    Reading some of these comments is depressing. Why do Dominicans always think someone is about to exploit rather than help ? Backwards people.

    • Justice
      February 13, 2016

      Because they have learn’t from the past even if you think they are backward.

  9. Enlightened
    February 12, 2016

    I’d like to advocate that atleast one Dominican expert accompany these so called scientists in order to ensure that any non related materials be recorded and left to our own means for procurement

    • zed
      February 12, 2016

      Nice idea. Shame we don\’t have any Dominican experts. I don\’t think scuba divers and lion fish hunters really count. \’So called\’ scientists ? You take a lot of impressing. That\’s actually what the people from the Smithsonian are; scientists.

  10. real deal
    February 12, 2016

    No they should not allowed this people to search for nothing in our waters. Something doesn’t add up. The white man is always one step ahead of us. I strongly believe that there is some lost treasure in our waters that is with billions and we have no knowledge of it and this treasure hunters are coming to get it. There are things we not aware of and folish government will just give this people access to our waters without 24hour supervision. This people are up to something of important.

    • zed
      February 12, 2016

      Oh my God. Are you serious ? No wonder Dominica is forever drifting backwards.

    • how i see it
      February 12, 2016

      you can be very right about what you saying but bro Dom-in-cans will think you don’t like the PM when you see things that they cant see

      February 13, 2016

      your lack of imagination is depressing.

  11. vegnag
    February 12, 2016

    Nothing mentioned about our own researchers joining the ship emmh. why can’t we expose some of our college students to this form of research? what about the SRC in Trinidad responsible for seismic research why are they not invited to observe the sea floor for any manifestations of seismicity especially given the recent spade of earthquakes around Dominica.

  12. Manjay Cochon
    February 12, 2016
  13. Manjay Cochon
    February 12, 2016
  14. Tommy
    February 12, 2016

    Hmmm, the big names I’m seeing it sounds like some huge find is about to be explored or studied for further extraction or removal, Smithsonian is no small fry, they are a massive organization, well too bad we don’t know better and don’t have the instruments and people to check it First. Alas let’s see what good will come out way this time.

  15. Africo
    February 12, 2016

    Oh yes? “These entities will be venturing into the deep reefs off the northwestern coast of Dominica to document and map known deep water anchorage sites and possible archeological findings.”

    Well ‘Pon guard’ for the sunken wrecks of the Spanish treasure fleet just off Capuchin Point. People have been trying to get at them for years! Remember these are the property of the Commonwealth of Dominica. But then Spain will maybe stake a claim too. Mi Dayba!

  16. Kalinago
    February 12, 2016

    That’s excellent! I look to hearing and seeing documentation of their findings.

  17. derp
    February 12, 2016

    “These entities will be venturing into the deep reefs off the northwestern coast of Dominica to document and map known deep water anchorage sites and possible archeological findings.” Hmm buried treasure!

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