Stromatolites (“layered rocks”) are rocky structures made by photosynthetic cyanobacteria. The microbes secrete sticky compounds that bind together sediment grains, creating a mineral “microfabric” that accumulates in fine layers.
In 2001, Michael Lombardi assisted Brian Kakuk in the excavation and recovery of a stromatolite in the Bahamas. This ‘living fossil’ was collected for Dr. Robert Ginsburg at the University of Miami and was further studied at the Smithsonian. This was just one of a multitude of projects carried out at NOAA’s Caribbean Marine Research Center, which resulted in an expansive network within the marine science community and helped Ocean Opportunity to be conceived.