Rocas Alijos: Scientific Results from the Cordell Expeditions

Robert W. Schmieder, Ed.

Published 1996 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
516 pp, 158 illus., 15 color plates
7x10" hardbound
ISBN 0-7923-4056-6

Rocas Alijos lies 180 nautical miles west of Baja California. It comprises several exposed rocks that surmount a large oceanic volcano rising from the ocean floor well off the continental shelf. It is located at the transition zone between two major biologic provinces, at a latitude where the Pacific Current turns westward to form the north Pacific trans-oceanic current. In spite of its obvious importance for biogeographical studies, the remoteness of Rocas Alijos and its small size thwarted any major scientific work until very recently, and the topography, biota, and oceanographic conditions of the site remained largely unknown.

During 1990, and again in 1993, Cordell Expeditions, a nonprofit research organization based in Walnut Creek, California, undertook expeditions to describe the site. A scientific team of 30 was onsite 31 October-7 November 1990, and a scientific team of 12 was onsite 10-15 February 1993. Since most of the Rocas Alijos site is subtidal, much of the examination and specimen collection was done by scuba, although several remote sampling techniques were also used. The exposed rocks were sampled by climbers, and megafauna were observed from shipboard.

The expedition yielded a large collection of specimens and data, although difficult sea conditions prevented exhaustive sampling. Most biological and geological specimens were distributed to various specialists, including some who participated in the expedition itself. Resulting identifications generated a list of more than 500 species, including many range extensions and numerous undescribed species. In addition, observations on bathymetry, temperature profiles, currents, and other features provided new, albeit incomplete, information about the physical conditions at Rocas Alijos.

This is an edited volume of coordinated contributions from many authors involved with the Cordell Expeditions. Participants and others who received collected materials provided their results in journal article form. Each manuscript was sent to three independent anonymous reviewers, and comments were passed back to the authors for corrections. While high standards for scholarship were maintained for most of the manuscripts, some suffered from simply too little data, the inevitable result of an expeditionary effort under difficult field conditions. We decided to include such manuscripts in this volume, since in most cases this is the only source of information on the subject. The editor has made special effort to prevent unwarranted claims from limited data.

Several papers in this volume are not listed with authorship, notably the onsite observations, weather and sea conditions, a comparison of the 1990/1993 expeditions, and species list. These contributions were written by the editor using results from various sources.

Rocas Alijos is published and distributed by Kluwer Academic Publishers.
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