Prestigious award recognizes Rocha’s efforts to explore, understand, and protect mesophotic coral reef ecosystems.
We are happy to celebrate Luiz Rocha, PhD, California Academy of Sciences Curator, Follett Chair of Ichthyology and Senior Researcher at NUTME. He is one of five winners of the 2021 Rolex Awards for Enterprise!
“I am honored and thrilled to be a Rolex Laureate,” Rocha says. “In addition to supporting future research efforts, the award is an affirmation of the importance of exploring and protecting these virtually unknown ecosystems.”
Rolex will support Rocha’s research expedition to the Indian Ocean where he will survey mesophotic coral reefs in the Maldives, a chain of islands regarded as one of the last coral refuges on Earth.
“One of the biggest obstacles we face when trying to protect and manage deep reefs is that most people don't know about them,” Rocha says. “So awards like this have huge potential to raise the profile of deep reefs and generate public conversation about them.”
Exploring mesophotic reefs, which are in the so-called twilight zone of the oceans, is risky, technically and physically demanding. Rocha’s experience is the result of more than 6,000 hours of underwater incursions and more than 70 scientific expeditions worldwide.
Like him, we also hope the award will increase awareness and appreciation of these unique ecosystems and the rich, unknown diversity of marine life they support.