Fabio DeLeo headshot photo

Fabio DeLeo

Science/Data Team
Senior Staff Scientist/Adjunct Professor
Ocean Networks Canada, University of Victoria

Tell us about your work/ research. What kinds of things do you do? 

My research focuses on investigating the vast biological diversity that inhabits the ocean’s seafloor (marine benthos). As a benthic ecologist, I specialize in deep-sea habitats, particularly submarine canyons, which are often hotspots of biodiversity and biomass, harboring countless life forms that include almost all phyla of the animal kingdom. Crustaceans, mollusks, cold-water corals, and numerous bottom fish species are of particular interest as they are targeted by deep-water commercial fisheries. I am interested in understanding the environmental constraints that promote the occurrence of these biodiversity hotspots in the ocean floor. In addition, to address the potential impacts of human activities such as deep-sea fishing, ocean deoxygenation, and other climate change-related impacts on these biodiversity oases. I have accumulated 20 years of seagoing experience and have participated in research cruises off Antarctica, New Zealand, Hawaii, Brazil, Norway, Canada, and Spain. My experience at sea also includes diving in manned submersibles as deep as 1,000 m in submarine canyons off Hawaii.

My role at Ocean Networks Canada includes not only helping to involve top-notch deep-sea researchers with the use of our observatories’ infrastructure but also analyzing ONC data to produce breakthrough scientific knowledge about the functioning, biodiversity, and effects of human-induced change in the deep sea. I also hold an Adjunct Assistant Professor position in the Department of Biology at the University of Victoria, and lecture on 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.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

My interests in marine biology and biodiversity started when I was a kid and leaving near the ocean, surfing, snorkeling and diving.

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

My father was certainly my largest motivator, but also I had a teacher in elementary and high school (Prof Maurício) who really was an inspiration for me to learn about nature and life in general.

What element of your work/study do you think is the most fascinating?

The most fascinating aspect of my work is the discovery of new phenomena, species, behaviors, processes and ultimately the establishment of connections between the marine ecosystems and us humans. How can we do better to keep the ocean in a state of proper functioning, balanced productivity, harmony with all the species that inhabit it?

What other jobs led you to your current career?

I have pretty much followed the academic career path, Bachelors's degree in Biology, MSc, and PhD in Biological Oceanography. Worked for a period of time as a consultant with the Oil and Gas industry and back to marine research, teaching, supervising students, learning and sharing knowledge on international conferences, publishing peer-reviewed science, etc

How did you get involved with the Nautilus Exploration Program?  

I am a senior scientist with Ocean Networks Canada, who partners with OET to bring the EV Nautilus and ROV Hercules to service our NEPTUNE deep-sea cabled observatory.

What are your degrees and certifications?

PhD in Biological Oceanography, University of Hawaii at Manoa 2012; Masters of Science in Biological Oceanography at University of Sao Paulo, Brazil 2003; Bachelor os Science in Biological Sciences at University of Sao Carlos, Brazil 1999.

What are your hobbies?

I love surfing, snowboarding, swimming in the ocean, yoga, kayaking, camping

What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?

Keep following your aspirations and dreams, seek advice of people that are inspirational to you. Keep working hard and one day will get there! :)


Fabio participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions: