American Museum of Natural History scientists first experienced the beauty and incredible biodiversity of the Solomon Islands nearly 100 years ago on a legendary expedition to collect birds, plants, and anthropological items. This month, Museum researchers are back in the captivating archipelago with scientific tools their predecessors couldn’t have dreamed of.

Scientists Investigate Glowing Organisms in Solomon Islands' Dark Waters

The research vessel Alucia (© AMNH/CUNY David Gruber)

High-resolution underwater cameras, a submersible, and an on-board genomic sequencing lab will assist researchers on The Explore21 Solomon Islands Expedition, an exploration of the mysterious organisms that light up the ocean's dark waters, uncharted microbial life, and the rich diversity of fishes, corals, and other animals.

Led by Museum ichthyologist John Sparks, this groundbreaking expedition is the first under a new Museum initiative called Explore21, a program that will foster a series of innovative scientific expeditions that meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

Scientists Investigate Glowing Organisms in Solomon Islands' Dark Waters

David Gruber entering the Triton submarine for first night deployment dive off Mbulo Island, Solomon Islands. (Ken Corben)

Joining Sparks on this multidisciplinary expedition is Eunsoo Kim, an assistant curator in the Museum’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology; Chris Filardi, director of Pacific Programs in the Museum’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation; David Gruber, a marine biologist at the Museum and the City University of New York; Vincent Pieribone, a molecular biologist at the Museum and Yale University; Robert Schelley, a scientific assistant in the Museum’s Department of Ichthyology; and Dawn Roje, a Ph.D. student in the Museum’s Richard Gilder Graduate School.

Scientists Investigate Glowing Organisms in Solomon Islands' Dark Waters

© AMNH/CUNY David Gruber

Members of the expedition will be blogging from the field over the next few weeks and sending back images and video of their work.

Click here to read more from the explorers as they report back from the field.