Harbor Branch Biomedical Expedition to include first submersible exploration of remote Cay Sal Bank
On Monday, the Harbor Branch drug discovery group will begin a 2-week expedition to explore the Straits of Florida in search of organisms that produce chemicals with the potential to cure diseases such as cancer and Alzheimers. The work will include the first submersible exploration of the remote Cay Sal Bank, which encompasses a number of small, uninhabited islands 30 miles north of Cuba. Cay Sal was once notorious for its role in illegal drug smuggling, but researchers expect to discover pristine reefs there down to 3,000 feet that could lead to a new reputation for the area as the source of lifesaving drugs. Regular dispatches and photos from the expedition will be posted at http://www.at-sea.org.
"We dont really know what organisms to expect," says Dr. Amy Wright, head of the Harbor Branch Biomedical Marine Research group, "Given the difference in the habitat, we expect to find some new species that we havent collected before. Thats why were going."
Mark Schrope | EurekAlert!
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