Scientists completed a 64-day cruise to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, onboard the University of Hawaii's Research Vessel, Ka’imikai-o-Kanaloa, and the Pisces IV and V Submersibles. They studied the regions virtually unexplored deep-sea corals, submarine canyons, and seamounts. One objective was to learn how endangered Hawaiian monk seals use shallow and deep-water habitats for hunting and protection. When scientists dove to a deep-sea coral bed, they were shocked to see an endangered Hawaiian monk seal at an amazing depth of 543 meters (1781 feet).

It's the first time a monk seal was documented as associated with deep-sea precious corals, and the first time a monk seal was observed at such a depth, where he showed no sign of stress.

 

Related Links

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Expedition 2003

NOAA Ocean Explorer Gallery