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Cablegate: Joint Deep Sea Exploration Yields Significant Finds

VZCZCXRO6690
OO RUEHCHI RUEHFK RUEHHM RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHPB
DE RUEHML #3482 2960826
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 230826Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8672
INFO RUEHZU/APEC COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUSICWP/COMLOGGRUWESTPAC SINGAPORE IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS MANILA 003482

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR OES
STATE PASS USAID
USDOC FOR NOAA/NMMS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV TPHY KSCA EAID RP
SUBJECT: Joint Deep Sea Exploration Yields Significant Finds

Ref: Manila 3262

1. Summary: Filipino and American scientists collected over 100
animal specimens in the previously unexplored deep waters near
Mindanao from October 3 to October 16, 2007. The Ambassador, high
school students, and Philippine and international press greeted the
successful expedition's return from this USG-funded research
project. Results have been prominently reported on local television
and in local and international press. National Geographic
Television and the National Geographic Magazine will dedicate a
television special and magazine article to the discoveries within a
year. Embassy support for the event has received praise from local
scientists and educators. End summary.

2. The "Coral Triangle" between the Philippines, Malaysia, and
Indonesia is the world's center of marine biodiversity. Eight
Filipino and twenty American scientists on the Philippine ship
"Presbitero" took inventory of species in the Celebes Sea (known as
Sulawesi Sea on some international maps) at various depths, using
multiple collection methods. Little was known about the Celebes
Basin, which drops rapidly to over five miles deep. The
cutting-edge technologies employed allowed samples from the ocean
floor down to over three miles. This was the first scientific
expedition to use this combination of collection methods and the
first utilization of a newly-invented holographic plankton imaging
system.

3. Scientists took DNA samples for further study to determine which
animals qualify as new species or sub-species. The most unusual
finds were snatched by the remotely operated vehicle. A bright red
swimming sea cucumber, a stunningly beautiful worm with a row of
paddles and flowing tentacles, and a black opaque jelly were some of
the more unusual finds collected at depth.

4. Our Embassy Science Officer accompanied the expedition and made
many valuable contributions, including precise electronic records on
collecting methods, the longitude and latitude for each sampling,
and event logs which can be found at
http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/welcome.html; "2007: Exploring the
Inner Space of the Celebes Sea." The Science Officer also joined a
diving team to collect animals in depths to 120 feet.

5. After ten days of intensive exploration, the Presbitero returned
to Manila Bay. The Ambassador (and a brass band, high school
students, journalists, and many others) met the ship and highlighted
this successful model of international cooperation in extending the
boundaries of scientific knowledge. The scientists briefed the
Ambassador, the administrator of the Philippine mapping agency, the
press, and high school students with a slide show that highlighted
some major findings of the exploration. Outreach will continue as
the Embassy staff goes back to schools and civic organizations to
showcase the rich biodiversity and environmental lessons revealed by
this exploration.

KENNEY

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