Thursday, June 13, 2024
HomeOceanBiologist Sonia Rowley Receives Prestigious Award For 'Twilight Zone Reef' Research

Biologist Sonia Rowley Receives Prestigious Award For ‘Twilight Zone Reef’ Research

Marine biologist Sonia Rowley, a research fellow at the University of Hawai?i at M?noa, has been awarded the prestigious Sir David Attenborough Award for her research and fieldwork on deepwater corals in the South Pacific.

The Systematics Association and the Linnean Society of London bestowed the award, which honored her fieldwork where she used a rebreather to dive down to depths below 150 meters/492 feet to study Mesophotic coral ecosystems, otherwise known as “Twilight Zone Reefs.” Such reefs make up an estimated 20 percent of the world’s reefs, with the rest existing above 150 meters below the surface.

Rowley is only among a handful of people to have received the award.

Systematics Association President Mark Wilkinson said:

“The David Attenborough Award is made to a recipient of the Systematics Research Fund who has conducted pioneering and inspirational scientific research through fieldwork. Sonia Rowley’s work epitomises the spirit of the award.”

The award came as a surprise to Rowley, who is also a member of the British Sub-Aqua Club. She told the BSAC website:

“It was an absolute pleasure to receive it, especially if some good can come of it. One of the most valuable things is showing natural history and beauty off and these awards tell everyone about it.”

To learn more, check out her research at or watch the video below.

Twilight Reefs of Pohnpei, Pakin & Ant Atoll 2015

John Liang
John Liang
John Liang is the News Editor at He first got the diving bug while in High School in Cairo, Egypt, where he earned his PADI Open Water Diver certification in the Red Sea off the Sinai Peninsula. Since then, John has dived in a volcanic lake in Guatemala, among white-tipped sharks off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and other places including a pool in Las Vegas helping to break the world record for the largest underwater press conference.


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