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A Tropical Research Paradise

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WHOI Trustees Frank and Lisina Hoch have issued a one-to-one $1.125 million challenge to seize new opportunities and expand the Institution’s research in tropical regions.

The $2.25 million Tropical Research Initiative is timed to take advantage of an “unusual opportunity,” said Frank Hoch: the newly constructed Liquid Jungle Lab (LJL), a well-equipped “scientific village” built by businessman Jean Pigozzi on land he owns on the Pacific coast of Panama. “The land is unspoiled and virtually uninhabited—a researcher’s paradise,” Hoch said.

Scientists from WHOI, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid provided integral scientific and technical advice on the design and operation of LJL. The site offers an undisturbed coastal site where ocean scientists can explore plankton, viruses, dolphins, jellyfish, corals, reef fish, mangrove swamps, and coastal currents, said Larry Madin, director of the WHOI Ocean Life Institute.

“The tropics are filled with an unimaginable variety of life, and they are under-researched,” Hoch said. “We hope to extend WHOI’s expertise into tropical regions.”

Beyond Panama, the Initiative is already helping to launch new research by WHOI scientists on coastal changes in Indonesia caused by the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami.

From the Series



Ocean Life Institute Director Larry Madin (center) displays jellyfish to Lisina and Frank Hoch at the WHOI Trustees meeting in May. (Tom Kleindinst, WHOI)

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