ONC Staff Profile
Fabio De Leo
Staff Scientist, Science Services
Fabio is originally from Brazil but also holds a Spanish citizenship. He earned a PhD in Biological Oceanography from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a Master's degreee in the same field from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. His research focuses on investigating the vast biological diversity that inhabits the ocean’s seafloor (marine benthos). As a benthic ecologist he has specialized on deep-sea habitats, particularly submarine canyons, which are often hotspots of biodiversity and biomass, harbouring countless life forms that include almost all phyla of the animal kingdom. Crustaceans, molluscs, cold-water corals, and numerous bottom fish species are of particular interest as they are targeted by commercial fisheries. He is interested in locating, mapping and studying these biodiversity hotspots in the ocean floor to help protect communities that may eventually be threatened by human activities such as fishing, oil and gas exploitation, seafloor mining and pollution, and also by climate change. As an outcome from Fabio's PhD research, a 10,500 hectare marine reserve (Hikurangi Marine Reserve) was created in the waters surrounding Kaikoura Submarine Canyon in New Zealand, one of the most productive deep-sea benthic habitats described to date. All exploitation activities such as fishing, mining, oil and gas exploration are now off limits in the Hikurangi nature sanctuary. Fabio has also accumulated over 18 years of seagoing experience and has participated in research cruises off Antarctica, New Zealand, Hawaii, Brazil, Norway, Canada and Spain. His experience at sea also includes diving in manned submersibles as deep as 1,000 m in submarine canyons off Hawaii.
Major responsibilities for Fabio at Ocean Networks Canada include not only helping to involve top-notch deep-sea researchers with the use of our observatory infrastructure, but also to analyze ONC data to produce breakthrough scientific knowledge about the functioning, biodiversity and effects of human-induced change in the deep-sea. Fabio also holds an Adjunct Assistant Professor position in the Department of Biology at UVic, lecturing at EOS-350, BIOL-311, CENG- 421 courses about deep-sea biodiversity, human impacts in the deep-ocean, and on the use of ONC’s video imagery for science, education and outreach.