Benthic Deepwater Animal Identification Guide

OER’s Benthic Deepwater Animal Identification Guide is a collection of in situ images created from video frame grabs taken from Deep Discoverer (D2) remotely operated vehicle (ROV) video.  This pilot version of the guide serves as a taxonomic reference of deepwater animals encountered during D2 ROV dives around the Hawaiian Archipelago and Johnston Atoll during the Hohonu Moana expedition in 2015. This guide is a pilot project intended to share some of the results of previous exploration work. We welcome your input and recommendations as we evaluate whether, and the best approach, to continue development of the guide as new images become available.

Identifications will be updated on a periodic basis as errors are detected and reported by taxonomists and others using the guide or when taxonomic revisions are made to the various groups included here.  Taxonomic revisions are particularly common for deepwater animals, which are poorly known, therefore we expect routine updates to occur.

The guide is organized according to major taxa and identifications were made with assistance from taxonomic experts who specialize in deep water animals.  Experts provided their assistance through various venues that included audio commentary and event log entries while the ROV dives were taking place, post dive email correspondence, and examination of these images just prior to them being mounted on this website.

Please cite this animal guide in the following manner:

NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research Benthic Deepwater Animal Identification Guide. Available from


Each image includes a colored square to indicate the depth at which the image was taken (see key below); the animal's species/genus name; and a series of letters and numbers which correspond to "ROV - Expedition Number - Leg Number - Dive Number - Hour - Minutes - Seconds" (for example, "D2-EX1504-L4-01-01:25:15"). Additional taxonomic information about the animal is located below the image.


Depth key for Animal ID guide

Each image is tagged with a color square that provides a general indication of the depth the image was taken. Click on image to open in new window for reference.

OER is extremely appreciative of the following experts who contributed to this effort:

Animal Guide Online Development:

Charles Carleton - NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI)

Taxonomic identification:

Dr. Mary Wicksten - Texas A&M University
Dr. Enrique Macpherson - Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Blanes (CSIC)
Dr. Keiji Baba - Kumamoto University
Dr. Carol Hickman - University of California, Berkeley
Dr. Bob Van Syoc - California Academy of Sciences
Dr. Buz Wilson - Saugatuck Natural History Laboratory

Dr. Scott France - University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Dr. Les Watling - University of Hawaii
Dr. Steven Cairns - National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian)
Dr. Dennis Opresko - Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Dr. Daniel Wagner - NOAA Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument
Dr. Amy Baco-Taylor - Florida State University
Dr. Tina Molodsova - P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology
Dr. Allen Collins - National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian)
Dr. Phil Alderslade - CSIRO

Dr. Christopher Mah - National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian)
Dr. Andrey Gebruk - P.P.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology
Dr. Charles Messing - Nova Southeastern University
Dr. Tina Molodsova - P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology
Dr. Alexander Mironov - P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology
Dr. Doug Eenisse - University of California, Santa Cruz
Dr. Marc Eleaume - Museum National D'Histoire Naturelle
Dr. Michel Roux - Museum National D'Histoire Naturelle

Other Invertebrates
Dr. Pamela Neubert - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Dr. Jessica Goodheart - National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian)
Mr. Robert Moffitt - NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center
Dr. Claudia Mills - University of Washington
Dr. Erik V. Thuesen - The Evergreen State College
Michael Vecchione - NMFS National Systematics Laboratory, National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian)

Dr. Henry Reiswig - University of Victoria
Dr. Rob van Soest - Naturalis Biodiversity Center
Dr. Konstantin Tabachnick - P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology
Dr. Christopher Kelley - University of Hawaii

Mr. Bruce Mundy - NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center
Dr. Jorgen Nielsen - University of Copenhagen
Dr. Tomio Iwamoto - California Academy of Sciences
Dr. John McCosker - California Academy of Sciences
Dr. Kenneth Sulak - United States Geological Survey
Dr. Andrea Quattrini - Harvey Mudd College
Dr. Dominique Didier - Millersville University
Dr. David Ebert - Moss Landing Marine Laboratories
Ms. Mackenzie Gerringer - University of Hawaii
Dr. Hsuan-Ching (Hans) - Ho National Museum of Marine Biology, Taiwan
Ms. Astrid Leitner - University of Hawaii
Dr. Peter Møller - Natural History Museum of Denmark
Dr. Werner Schwarzhans - University of Copenhagen
Dr. David Smith - U.S. National Museum of Natural History

OER is also appreciative of Virginia Moriwake and Sarah Davis, University of Hawaii, for assisting Dr. Chris Kelley in the significant amount of work involved in assembling this guide.

If you find any errors in the identifications, please email Dr. Christopher Kelley.