Deep-Sea Symphony: Exploring the Musicians Seamounts





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NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer docked at University of Hawaii Marine Center - Pier 35.

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer docked at University of Hawaii Marine Center – Pier 35. Click image for credit and larger view.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 30, 2017

Finale: Deep-Sea Symphony Expedition Complete

This morning, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer pulled into port at the University of Hawaii Marine Center – Pier 35, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Today marks the end of both the Deep-Sea Symphony: Exploring the Musicians Seamounts expedition as well as NOAA’s Campaign to Address Pacific monument Science, Technology, and Ocean NEeds (CAPSTONE), a three-year foundational science initiative to collect deepwater baseline information to support science and management decisions in and around U.S. marine protected areas in the central and western Pacific. Once the ship’s gangway was secured, the various teams worked to wrap up expedition projects, offload supplies and samples, and prepare for tomorrow’s Ocean Exploration Celebration. On Sunday, October 1, Okeanos Explorer and Schmidt Ocean Institute's R/V Falkor will be open for public ship tours and a dockside education pavilion will also feature educational and interactive exhibits. This one-day public celebration is co-hosted by NOAA, Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI), and the University of Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Science. NOAA will be celebrating the completion of CAPSTONE; SOI will be celebrating their five-year anniversary; and the University of Hawaii will be celebrating their success in contributing to both operations, including the participation of faculty and students on several of the cruises.


 


 

 

 

The rounded stern of the USS Baltimore was modified to include doors and deployment rails for laying sea mines during WWI.

The rounded stern of the USS Baltimore was modified to include doors and deployment rails for laying sea mines during World War I. Click image for credit and larger view.

This view of the USS Baltimore foredeck shows the forecastle and upper hull strakes have been removed, likely to aid the scuttling of the ship. As in this photo, brisingid sea stars dominated much of the available surface on the ship.

This view of the USS Baltimore foredeck shows the forecastle and upper hull strakes have been removed, likely to aid the scuttling of the ship. As shown in this photo, brisingid sea stars dominated much of the available surface on the ship. Click image for credit and larger view.

The knife-edge bow stem of the USS Baltimore was covered in brisingids and other deepwater fauna.

The knife-edge bow stem of the USS Baltimore was covered in brisingids and other deepwater fauna. Click image for credit and larger view.

video Watch video from the dive.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 29, 2017

Dive 22: USS Baltimore

Today’s dive was on a maritime heritage site, the USS Baltimore, a late 19th-century protected cruiser that served in both the Spanish-American War and World War I. The ship had been present in Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941, and was eventually towed out to sea and scuttled in 1944. The purpose of this dive was to conduct a non-invasive video survey of the ship’s remains, including the documentation of specific 19th-century features, to collect photogrammetry and mosaic data to be compiled for a 3D model, to asses scuttling damage and preservation or deterioration status, and to compile an inventory of the organisms residing on the shipwreck. At about 600 meters (1,970 feet) depth, the vessel was found upright and intact on the flat sandy bottom. The dominant fauna on the ship appeared to be brisingid sea stars. Other fauna observed included cup corals, a diversity of octocorals, black coral, zoanthids, comb jellies, glass sponges, urchins, crinoids, hydroids, anemones, tunicates, bivalves, shrimp, a squat lobster, a rattail, dogfish, cutlassfish, and an anglerfish. Data collected today will enable interpretive products of this historic vessel, contribute to a better understanding of how shipwrecks deteriorate over time and the habitat that they provide for marine animals, and provide insights into the maritime heritage sites that exist within U.S. waters.


 


 

 

 

At 785 meters depth, ROV Deep Discoverer encountered a WWII-period causeway called a “rhino barge”. Rhino barges were large floating platforms comprised of joined together steel pontoons that could transport vehicles and supplies to beaches. This is one pontoon.

At 785 meters (2,575 feet) depth, remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer encountered a World War II-period causeway called a “rhino barge.” Rhino barges were large floating platforms comprised of joined-together steel pontoons that could transport vehicles and supplies to beaches. This is one pontoon. Click image for credit and larger view.

An unusual observation of a six gilled stingray, Hexatrygon bickelli. Although these animals are found across the Pacific, scientists know almost nothing about the biology of this species. Found at approximately 835 meters of depth, this could be the first live sighting of this animal.

An unusual observation of a six-gilled stingray, Hexatrygon bickelli. Although these animals are found across the Pacific, scientists know almost nothing about the biology of this species. Found at approximately 835 meters (2,740 feet) of depth, this could be the first live sighting of this animal. Click image for credit and larger view.

video Watch video of the six-gilled stingray and a lantern shark.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 28, 2017

Dive 21: “Caiman” Anomaly

An important, and exciting, part of exploration is investigating sonar anomalies – we are never certain what will be found! Sometimes these anomalies reveal rocks, other times they show us a glimpse into our cultural heritage by revealing wreckage from years before. The “Caiman” anomaly was identified in multibeam data from early in the Deep-Sea Symphony expedition. The objective for this dive was to complete a characterization of the sonar anomaly and – if the anomaly was a cultural heritage target – confirm its identity, record its condition, and document damage from its disposal or sinking. It was thought that the anomaly could be the remains of a Japanese fast submarine I-203 (Sentaka-type) that was captured at the end of World War II and brought to Pearl Harbor as part of a five-submarine prize fleet. These submarines had been disposed of near this area in 1946, so it was certainly possible. Five waypoints were selected from the multibeam sonar targets. However, when all five waypoints were examined by the remotely operated vehicle, they were found instead to be geologic formations of basalt rock. The I-203 Japanese fast submarine was not located. There was an unexpected target identified: the remains of a World War II-period floating causeway, otherwise known as a “rhino barge.” Some of the biology highlights included a large conger eel, cusk eel, anglerfish, scorpionfish, rattail, a six-gilled stingray, crab, sea star, crinoids, urchin, bivalves, anemone, precious coral, cup coral, stony coral, jellyfish, and glass sponges.


 


 

 

 

View of Oahu from NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.

View of Oahu from NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. Click image for credit and larger view.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 27, 2017

Dive Cancelled Due to Mechanical Issues

Today’s dive at Ka’ula was cancelled due to mechanical issues with the ship’s bow thruster. The bow thruster is a critical component of conducting safe remotely operated vehicle operations, so the decision was made to use the day to troubleshoot the issue and test the repairs. As the engineering team worked to troubleshoot the issue, the ship transited and mapped the seafloor en route to tomorrow’s planned dive site. All on board kept busy with vehicle maintenance, dive summary reports, storing and packing of samples, and other projects.


 


 

 

 

This cookie star was identified as Sphaeriodiscus ammohiluis. It has distinctive alternating bands of darker and lighter orange. This animal was found at 363 meters depth.

This cookie star was identified as Sphaeriodiscus ammohiluis. It has distinctive alternating bands of darker and lighter orange. This animal was found at 363 meters (1,190 feet) depth. Click image for credit and larger view.

These two colonies could be equated to a before and after shot of colonization by gold coral (left), Kulamanamana haumeaae, and likely host colony species, bamboo coral (right), Acanella sp.

These two colonies could be equated to a before and after shot of colonization by gold coral (left), Kulamanamana haumeaae, and likely host colony species, bamboo coral (right), Acanella sp. Click image for credit and larger view.

A scorpion fish, observed next to a mushroom coral, was observed at 460 meters depth. Due to its extremely large pectoral fins, it was identified as Setarches guentheri, a fish that swims up into the water column at night to feed, unlike most scorpion fish which are ambush predators.

A scorpion fish, seen next to a mushroom coral, was observed at 460 meters (1,509 feet) depth. Due to its extremely large pectoral fins, the fish was identified as Setarches guentheri, a fish that swims up into the water column at night to feed, unlike most scorpion fish which are ambush predators. Click image for credit and larger view.

video Watch video of gold coral seen colonizing bamboo coral.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 26, 2017

Dive 20: Middle Bank

During Dive 20, the team investigated a conical feature primarily of volcanic origin located on the top of Middle Bank’s carbonate platform that may be the result of secondary volcanism. Our objective for today's dive was to explore for precious coral and bottomfish habitats. Remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) arrived on bottom in 475 meters (1,558 feet) depth near the base of the cone on a featureless flat seafloor. Two Dogfish sharks, corals (primnoid and victorgorgia), an urchin, and a purple scleractinian coral with an associated squat lobster were observed in close proximity. D2 imaged “dissolution holes” in the pavement surface, suggesting it was composed of carbonate. A Corallium precious coral, the first documented on Middle Bank, was observed not far from an Asterphiura false sea star. The slope increased, remaining generally consistent until D2 reached closer to the summit. Some carbonate ledge “tongues” with dark material and thin veins of tan were observed, one with many corals on the tip. Upslope, we encountered a band of gold corals in high density. Several colonies were quite large and likely several hundreds of years old, if not older. The dive concluded on an extensive high-density community of small black corals that continued upslope. This dive was particularly exciting for our fish biologist team. We encountered a diversity of fish, including a chaunax, a large school of amberjacks, an aggregation of nine conger eels, and an unusual sighting of a Bandfish was imaged at about 355 meters (1,164 feet) along with a potentially new fish, orange with big black eyes, that stumped our science team.


 


 

 

 

A dense pink coral garden was found at nearly 1800 meters on Mendellsohn Seamount. Many of the colonies were exceptionally large.

A dense pink coral garden was found at nearly 1,800 meters (5,905 feet) on Mendellsohn Seamount. Many of the colonies were exceptionally large. Click image for credit and larger view.

This sea spider was observed at about 1675 meters depth on a bamboo coral that has been colonized by yellow parazoanthids.

This sea spider was observed at about 1,675 meters (5,495 feet) depth on a bamboo coral that has been colonized by yellow parazoanthids. Click image for credit and larger view.

A pink coral (Hemicorallium sp.) observed at ~1654 meters had a base approximately seven inches wide, indicating a particularly old colony. The colony was covered with crinoids.

A pink coral (Hemicorallium sp.) observed at ~1,654 meters (5,426 feet) had a base approximately 18 centimeters (seven inches) wide, indicating a particularly old colony. The colony was covered with crinoids. Click image for credit and larger view.

video Watch video from the dive.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 25, 2017

Dive 19: Mendelssohn Seamount

The dive on Mendelssohn Seamount was the grand finale of our seamount exploration. Starting at nearly 1,800 meters (5,905 feet), we found a dense pink coral garden (Hemicorallium sp.) with exceptionally large colonies. As remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) moved upslope, the community became more diverse with corals including Chrysogorgidae, Hemicorallium sp., Isididae (bamboo), and possibly some primnoids. It became unclear at about 1,700 meters (5,577 feet) depth if the substrate was really featureless lava flows or tuff, given that this cone atop a guyot’s carbonate cap may be the result of secondary volcanism. We then entered a dense bamboo coral forest with colonies up to three meters (9.8 feet) tall, suggesting that both the corals and the community are very old. The slope decreased as D2 neared the summit, approximately 1,650 meters (5,413 feet), where more coral diversity was observed, including Iridigorgia and Hemicorallium (pink) corals, the latter with a six to eight-inch-wide base and covered with crinoids. More topographic relief was finally observed, in this case a talus chute running between elevated massive outcrops. The dive closed out in an area with more diversity, but similar density of old colonies, including several different species of bamboo corals, large Hemicorallium colonies and the first instance of a true Metalagorgia sp. coral on this expedition, followed by several other colonies.Throughout the dive, there were several instances of corals providing habitat for other organisms, such as crinoids, brittle stars, squat lobsters, and zoanthids. Other highlights included observations of a halosaur, sea spider, anemones, a spider crab, and a Bolosominae sponge.


 


 

 

 

This pair of unusual urchins with soft spines were found at close to 2290 meters depth. They have long spines as a “skirt” around the bottom of the urchin, short spines on top, and long tube feet that they use to walk on the bottom.These urchins are small, about 3 cm across the test.

This pair of unusual urchins with soft spines were found at close to 2,290 meters (7,513 feet) depth. They have long spines as a “skirt” around the bottom of the urchin, short spines on top, and long tube feet that they use to walk on the bottom. These urchins are small, about three centimeters (1.2 inches) across the test. Click image for credit and larger view.

A zooanthid overgrows a pink bubblegum coral with a brittlestar associate.

A zooanthid overgrows a pink bubblegum coral with a brittlestar associate. Click image for credit and larger view.

This large, approximately 4 meters in length, rippled sponge looks to be the same animal found by NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer discovered during the 2015 Hohonu Moana expedition. It may be in the hexactinellid family Rossellidae and subfamily Lanuginellinae. The sponge was found at 2150 meters.

This large rippled sponge, approximately four meters (13.1 feet) in length, looks to be the same animal discovered during the Okeanos Explorer 2015 Hohonu Moana expedition. It may be in the hexactinellid family Rossellidae and subfamily Lanuginellinae. The sponge was found at 2,150 meters (7,054 feet). Click image for credit and larger view.

video Watch video the large sponge encountered on the dive.

video Watch video of a halosaur seen on the dive.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 24, 2017

Dive 18: Schumann Seamount

While exploring Schumann Seamount, the team discovered yet another high-density coral community! Remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) arrived on bottom at 2,311 meters (7,582 feet) depth on a flat sedimented plain with a gravelly surface dotted with isolated boulders. Some of the first biological observations included bamboo coral with “volcano polyps,” black coral, glass sponges, benthic jellyfish, a sea star predating on a coral tree, and a pair of unusual urchins with soft spines that were also observed on previous dives. Soon an oasis of life appeared in the form of dense coral fans hosted by a big isolated boulders. The seafloor transitioned into a talus slope mostly consisting of small gravelly material and a number of biological observations followed, including a large dead sponge toppled over presumably after outgrowing its rock base, parazoanthids overgrowing a pink coral, a primnoid coral with a piece of marine debris caught in its branches, a Caunacops sp. in the anglerfish family, and a halosaur. Soon after, D2 came across a giant ribbon-like sponge resembling a folded blanket that measured nearly four meters in length. This sponge, Lanuginellidae “ruffles,” has been seen twice before in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and a piece of this sponge was collected as a paratype to help in the description of this new species. Seeing this rare sponge here in the Musicians Seamounts may be an indication of connectivity between the two island chains.


 


 

 

 

Pink and purple squat lobster, perched on a black coral, is thought to belong a new genus. We have seen this species in several locations throughout CAPSTONE, and have even tried to collect it a few times, but it always evades us. For now we will have to settle for the imagery to help identify this organism.

Pink and purple squat lobster, perched on a black coral, is thought to belong a new genus. We have seen this species in several locations throughout CAPSTONE expeditions, and have even tried to collect it a few times, but it always evades us. For now we will have to settle for the imagery to help identify this organism. Click image for credit and larger view.

Solmissus jellyfish observed during midwater transects during Dive 17 of the Deep-Sea Symphony: Exploring the Musicians Seamounts expedition.

Solmissus jellyfish observed during midwater transects during Dive 17 of the Deep-Sea Symphony: Exploring the Musicians Seamounts expedition. Click image for credit and larger view.

An exciting observation during today’s midwater transects, this Fangtooth fish was observed at 800 meters.

An exciting observation during today’s midwater transects, this fangtooth fish was seen at 800 meters (2,625 feet). Click image for credit and larger view.

video Watch video of a sea star dining on a coral.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 23, 2017

Dive 17: Rapano Ridge and Midwater Transects

Today’s dive at Rapano Ridge revealed yet another high-density deep-sea coral community! Dive 17 began on a sedimented plain covered by a gravelly surface composed of uniform sized manganese-encrusted cobbles with a few sponge and small coral colonies. As remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) moved upslope, we encountered more corals, glass sponges, sea stars and brittle stars, crinoids, several fish including a cusk eel, and a very pink squat lobster that may belong to a new genus. Upslope, geological observations include large boulders, intact pillow flow outcrops with talus in between, and a blocky columnar basalt outcrop that persisted for quite some time along slope. As the slope flattened out, we observed larger corals and sponges, sea stars, and primnoid corals, along with intact flow units, talus, and sediment. As D2 reached the broad summit ridge, we observed mostly talus and smaller corals, although larger corals were observed to either side of the ridgeline. Sample collections included two pieces of angular talus rock, an unknown Euplectellidae “frilly vase” sponge, a piece from a large coral (Acanthogorgia sp.), and an unusual, wavy primnoid with large disorganized branches. After the benthic portion of the dive, the team conducted midwater transects at varying depths. Highlights included included multiple ctenophores, siphonophores, jellyfish, a fangtooth fish (Anoplogaster sp.), and a piglet squid (Helicocranchia sp.).


 


 

 

 

An egg mass observed in the water column. We cannot be sure what type of eggs these are based on images of video alone.

An egg mass observed in the water column. We cannot be sure what type of eggs these are based on images of video alone. Click image for credit and larger view.

A siphonophore observed in the water column during the second full day of midwater exploration on September 22, 2017.

A siphonophore observed in the water column during the second full day of midwater exploration on September 22, 2017. Click image for credit and larger view.

A siphonophore observed in the water column during the second full day of midwater exploration on September 22, 2017.

A siphonophore observed in the water column during the second full day of midwater exploration on September 22, 2017. Click image for credit and larger view.

video Watch video from the dive.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 22, 2017

Dive 16: Symphony in Sea Minor

Dive 16 was our second full day of midwater exploration. This dive, as well as Dive 11, and all of the other midwater transects conducted at the end of benthic dives, have offered us an incredible opportunity to better understand fauna distributions in the water column, diversity of organisms present in the Musicians Seamounts, and morphology of delicate organisms that might be damaged by collections with nets. During today’s dive, we completed two rounds of four 25-minute transects at varying depths. Our first transect kicked off with observations of large siphonophores, jellyfish, arrow worms, and a couple unidentified swimming (or floating) organisms. Similar faunal groups were observed throughout the dive, with siphonophores, arrow worms, and bristlemouths being some of the most commonly observed fauna. Other organisms observed during transects included a diversity of ctenophores, shrimp, larvaceans, and protists. Particular highlights of the day were what appeared to be an egg mass, a black ctenophore, a piglet squid, and a pair of sea elephants interacting.


 


 

 

 

Glass sponge (Saccocalyx sp.), one of many glass sponges observed throughout the dive on Mozart Seamount.

This glass sponge (Saccocalyx sp.) was one of many glass sponges observed throughout the dive on Mozart Seamount. Click image for credit and larger view.

The geology highlight of the dive at Mozart Seamount was a field of nearly spherical intact “pillow balls” at approxiamtely 3,765 meters.

The geology highlight of the dive at Mozart Seamount was a field of nearly spherical intact “pillow balls” at approxiamtely 3,765 meters (2.34 miles). Click image for credit and larger view.

Anemone observed while diving at Mozart Seamount on September 21, 2017.

Anemone observed while diving at Mozart Seamount on September 21, 2017. Click image for credit and larger view.

video Watch video of a swimming sea cucumber seen on the dive.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 21, 2017

Dive 15: Mozart Seamount

Dive 15 took place at Mozart Seamount. This dive was chosen as a comparison to yesterday’s dive at Liszt Seamount, to contrast geomorphology and geological environments of seamounts formed via hotspot volcanism with different proximities to the Murray Fracture Zone. Remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Deep Discoverer (D2) arrived on bottom at a depth 3,853 meters (2.39 miles) on a talus slope with a single stalked sponge in view. D2 soon encountered a pillow flow front consisting of two or three thin layers, which was a stark contrast to the flat plain of consolidated pebbles D2 has started the dive on. Shortly afterwards, the slope steepened, thick manganese-crusting was evident, and we encountered our first coral of the dive, a Pleurogorgia sp. Further up slope was a low relief sheet flow and talus with a few sponges, sea stars, anemones, and corals. There were various kinds of stalked glass sponges spotted throughout the dive such as Caulophacus sp., Saccocalyx sp., and Hyalostylus sp. The geology highlight of the day was when contact was made with a field of nearly spherical intact “pillow balls” at 3,765 meters (2.34 miles), that seemingly rolled downslope intact. However, little evidence of slide activity was observed on the slope. The overhead ROV Seirios view showed a distinct contact between the “pillow balls” and a featureless slope which was very puzzling. Four coral specimens were collected including a Bathypathes sp. black coral, Anthomastus sp. mushroom coral, Primnoidae coral, and Keratoisidinae D clade bamboo coral. Four geological specimens were collected as well, two with our biological collections. All of these specimens will be great assets to understanding the biological communities at this depth and the geology of the Musicians Seamounts!


 


 

 

 

Pleurogorgia militaris chrysogorgid coral on massive pillow flow outcrop at a depth of 2,527 meters on Liszt Seamount.

Pleurogorgia militaris chrysogorgid coral on massive pillow flow outcrop at a depth of 2,527 meters (8,290 feet) on Liszt Seamount. Click image for credit and larger view.

An unusual looking unknown urchin perched on the underside of a large boulder of volcanic origin at Liszt Seamount

An unusual looking unknown urchin perched on the underside of a large boulder of volcanic origin at Liszt Seamount. Click image for credit and larger view.

ROV Deep Discoverer’s manipulator arm collecting a stalked crinoid while diving at Liszt Seamount.

ROV Deep Discoverer’s manipulator arm collecting a stalked crinoid while diving at Liszt Seamount. Click image for credit and larger view.

video Watch video from the dive.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 20, 2017

Dive 14: Liszt Seamount

Today’s dive took place at Liszt Seamount between the depth range of about 2,500 to 2,200 meters (8,200 to 7,220 feet). Remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) reached the seafloor on a flat sediment plain with small ripples and covered in gravel-sized cobbles with a welcoming white halosaur fish. Large and meter-sized boulders were present, some populated with crinoids, sponges, and sea stars. Smaller and sedimented angular talus and intact pillow flows were also observed. As the slope increased, the substrate was composed of some sort of consolidated or cemented material such as small talus resembling hardpan. The first coral of the dive, a Pluerogorgia militaris, was observed at a depth of 2,527 meters (8,290 feet), as the geology transitioned to a sedimented talus slope with large outcrops, boulders, and intact lava flow. While the area that was surveyed did not support what would generally be defined as a dense coral and sponge community, there were a number of different species of black coral, chrysogorgid coral, primnoid coral, mushroom coral, and glass sponges. Collections of two different stalked crinoids were made, one in the family Hyocrinidae and one in the family Proisocrinidae, both of which may be new to science. Throughout the dive, the team also observed interesting fishes, a number of unusual sea stars, sea cucumbers, a sea spider, an interesting-looking sea urchin, and two unique amphipods. Near the end of the dive, the D2 came upon a well-defined ridge and the team was treated to a stunning view of both sides of the ridge. To the left was a sheer drop off where the most animals were observed, while on the right was a continuous, featureless slope mostly devoid of biologics.


 


 

 

 

ROV Deep Discoverer documents the benthic communities at Paganini Seamount, capturing high resolution imagery that can be used by scientists to identify organisms and build a baseline characterization of what these habitats look like.

ROV Deep Discoverer documents the benthic communities at Paganini Seamount, capturing high-resolution imagery that can be used by scientists to identify organisms and build a baseline characterization of what these habitats look like. Click image for credit and larger view.

Large Primnoid colonies colonize a rocky outcrop at Paganini Seamount.

Large Primnoid colonies colonize a rocky outcrop at Paganini Seamount. Click image for credit and larger view.

The science team observed a number of amphipods (small white objects) feeding on a salp’s insides (yellow) while exploring the water column on September 19, 2017.

The science team observed a number of amphipods (small white objects) feeding on a salp’s insides (yellow) while exploring the water column on September 19, 2017. Click image for credit and larger view.

video Watch video of what could be the largest short-finned cutthroat eel ever recorded.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 19, 2017

Dive 13: Paganini Seamount and Midwater Transects

Another dive, another high-density deep-sea coral community! Dive 13 was conducted on a rift zone ridge along the summit of Paganini Seamount. Remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) arrived on bottom at 1,812 meters (5,945 feet) in a field of jagged and angular talus surrounding a massive, almost columnar outcrop. This outcrop originated either from an intrusive complex such as a sill or large dike, or extrusively as the core of a very thick lava flow, cooling slowly and developing cleavage planes. From the moment D2 reached the seafloor, a diversity of deep-sea corals and sponges were observed in significant densities. The dominant coral family observed here was the Chrysogorgiidae, but there were numerous large colonies of precious corals (Hemicorallium sp.) and Iridogorgia, huge primnoid octocorals (Paracalyptrophora sp.), massive glass sponges (Poliopogon sp.), and several other types of octocoral. The geology of today’s dive was different from what we have observed on the previous dives. We collected two rock samples, both angular basalt that will be good candidates for carbon dating post cruise. Biological samples included black coral (Antipathes sp.) growing on a glass sponge that might be new and a colony of Acanthogorgia sp. We even collected some Aeginona sp. jellyfish feeding on an Iridogorgia coral. At the conclusion of our benthic time, we conducted four water column transects at 800, 700, 500, and 300 meters. Highlights from the transects included several jellyfish, very high diversity and biomass of siphonophores, a salp with several amphipods, many Cyclothone fishes and chaetognath arrow worms, and two cephalopods at 700 meters and 510 meters depth.


 


 

 

 

At the beginning of the dive on Mussorgsky Seamount, the corals were aligned perpendicular to the current, which is the optimal positioning to acquire food.

At the beginning of the dive on Mussorgsky Seamount, the corals were aligned perpendicular to the current, which is the optimal position to acquire food. Click image for credit and larger view.

As the ROVs left the summit of Mussorgsky Seamount, coral continued in every direction as far as the light pool reached.

As the ROVs left the summit of Mussorgsky Seamount, coral continued in every direction as far as the light pool reached. Click image for credit and larger view.

Corals not only provide home for animals, they are also food for coral predators, like this sea star.

Corals not only provide home for animals, they are also food for coral predators, like this sea star. Click image for credit and larger view.

video Watch video of a crab eating a sponge, seen during the dive.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 18, 2017

Dive 12: Mussorgsky Seamount

Dive 12 targeted a ridge feature atop Mussorgsky Seamount. This seamount is the most isolated in the Musicians Seamounts, in terms of distance from another large ridge feature or seamount. Remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) arrived on bottom at 2,059 meters (6,755 feet) in a geological setting that included intact pillow flows, some cobbles, and large sponges. Numerous coral colonies soon came into view at the start of the high-density community discovered along the summit ridge. D2 transited upslope and the team documented several small, and rare brittlestars (Asterophiura sp.) that mimic sea stars and observed intact low relief lumpy pillow flows, alternating with talus chutes. As D2 moved south along the ridge crest, the team observed large pillow lobes as the sponge and coral community continued. Corals observed included precious coral (Hemicorallium sp.), bamboo corals, cup corals, and an abundance of primnoids and chrysogorgid corals. Further upslope, larger outcrops and blocks appeared and were covered in corals and sponges. As large broken slabs alternated with sheet/lobate flows, the same or higher density and abundance of corals persisted. Low relief lava flows, some with obvious edges, and moderate sediment cover were observed at 1,980 meters (6,496 feet). Here, primnoid and bamboo corals abounded. Low relief flows continued up the slope with little talus and occasional flow fronts/edges exposed. The summit was nearly flat (1,957 meters; 6,420 feet) and was composed of a mix of low relief pillows, talus, and sediment, with many corals, but no sponges. Other biological observations during the dive included a codling fish, brittle stars, an orange Nemertean ribbon worm, squat lobsters, eels, shrimp, a chiton, crinoids, sea stars, a couple of crabs, and anemones.


 


 

 

 

Cranchiid Squid observed during the Okeanos Explorer’s first ever full day of midwater exploration. The team also observed this squid expelling its white ink!

Cranchiid squid observed during the Okeanos Explorer’s first-ever full day of midwater exploration. The team also observed this squid expelling its white ink! Click image for credit and larger view.

Lancetfish observed during midwater transects on Dive 11 near Mahler Seamount.

Lancetfish observed during midwater transects on Dive 11 near Mahler Seamount. Click image for credit and larger view.

video Watch video from the dive.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 17, 2017

Dive 11: Symphony in Sea Major

Today was the first-ever Okeanos Explorer full day of water column exploration with the remotely operated vehicles (ROVs)! Dive 11 consisted of three passes through the water column between 300 and 1,000 meters. The first transect was a continuous oblique descent. During this portion of the dive, our science team monitored the dissolved oxygen levels as well as EK60 and CTD data and compared it to biomass observed. The team then used these data to guide the operations for the rest of the day, which consisted of two iterations of midwater transects between 300 and 900 meters. Also, for two short periods during the dive, all ROV lights were turned off and we caught a brief glimpse of bioluminescence. Other biologic observations included a diversity of siphonophores (including several that were very large), jellyfish, and ctenophores. Other organisms documented were an abundance of bristlemouths (Cyclothone sp.), arrow worms, larvaceans, and shrimp. We also observed two types of squids, a snipe eel, and a lancetfish.


 


 

 

 

Close up view of the structure of one of the many glass sponges observed at Shostakovich Seamount.

Close-up view of the structure of one of the many glass sponges observed at Shostakovich Seamount. Click image for credit and larger view.

The coral community at Shostakovich Seamount was different than the ones observed on other dives. Bamboo corals were the most abundant large coral species present, all of the colonies observed were roughly the same size. Our science team thinks that this could indicate that the colonies are all the same age and potentially from the same spawning event.

The coral community at Shostakovich Seamount was different than the ones observed on other dives. Bamboo corals were the most abundant large coral species present, all of the colonies observed were roughly the same size. Our science team thinks that this could indicate that the colonies are all the same age and potentially from the same spawning event. Click image for credit and larger view.

Rattail fish observed while exploring Shostakovich Seamount.

Rattail fish observed while exploring Shostakovich Seamount. Click image for credit and larger view.

video Watch video of giant bamboo corals seen during the dive.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 16, 2017

Dive 10: Shostakovich Seamount and Midwater Transects

Dive 10 at Shostakovich Seamount was northernmost point of our exploration of the Musicians Seamounts. While not as diverse as some of the other communities we have observed during this cruise, Dive 10 was still fascinating. As we scaled the slope of the seamount, remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Deep Discoverer encountered several large bamboo corals, all approximately the same size or taller than the ROV. The corals were sparely spaced out as we climbed the slope, but they were consistently present. Also observed were black corals, stoliniferous octocorals, and precious and bubblegum corals. At the summit of the feature was a high-density coral community composed primarily of the large bamboo corals and small chrysogorgids. This is our eleventh high-density community discovered during this cruise, a primary objective of this expedition. Several fish, including cusk eels, an arrow-tooth eel, a chaunax, rattails, and a codling, were also documented. At the end of the benthic portion of the dive, we completed a series of midwater transects at 100-meter intervals from 800 meters to 300 meters. During these transects, observations included a diversity of ctenophores, jellyfish, siphonophores, krill, doliolids, radiolarian, and several protists. The sweet spot for high biomass was between 700 and 600 meters, where we observed many arrow worms and an extreme abundance of bristlemouths (Cyclothone).


 


 

 

 

On Dive 9 at Verdi Seamount, the team observed this ctenophore that may be new to science as it is an undescribed species and in an undescribed family.

On Dive 09 at Verdi Seamount, the team observed this ctenophore that may be new to science as it is an undescribed species and in an undescribed family. Click image for credit and larger view.

On September 15, 2017 while diving on Verdi Seamount this curious rattail fish (Coryphaenoides sp.) with parasitic copepod on fin checked out ROV Deep Discoverer.

On September 15, while diving on Verdi Seamount, this curious rattail fish (Coryphaenoides sp.) with a parasitic copepod on its fin checked out ROV Deep Discoverer. Click image for credit and larger view.

ROV Deep Discoverer explores talus slope on Verdi Seamount.

ROV Deep Discoverer explores a talus slope on Verdi Seamount. Click image for credit and larger view.

video Watch video highlights from the dive on Verdi Seamount.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 15, 2017

Dive 09: Verdi Seamount

Remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) touched down on a steep slope of Verdi Seamount at 3,090 meters (1.9 miles), part way up the flank of the volcanic ridge. We arrived at the contact between a moderately sedimented talus field and low relief lava outcrops, including pillow flows and lobate lava forms. As we explored up slope, the substrate consisted of talus, pillow flows, and sediment pockets in between. Throughout the dive, biological observations included a moderate number of primnoid corals, black corals, glass sponges, and numerous numerous small invertebrates including polychaetes, mysid shrimps, amphipods, isopods, and a ctenophore that may be new to science. Fishes included a lizard fish (Bathysaurus mollis), rattail fish (Coryphaenoides sp.),and a cusk eel (Ophidioform). The team collected two rock samples that should help us better understand the hot spot and mid-ocean ridge interactions, and and two biological specimens: a black coral and a bamboo coral with associates. As D2 left the seafloor at 3,021 meters (1.88 miles), the team observed another transition from a sedimented plain back to a low slope sedimented talus field, suggesting we may have been exploring the saddle between the western and eastern bathymetric highs.


 


 

 

 

Our science team is always excited about acts of predation when exploring the deep sea! Aside from learning more about the behaviors and associations of the organisms observed, these sorts of predation events were rarely documented prior to the beginning of NOAA’s Campaign to Address Pacific monument Science, Technology, and Ocean NEeds (CAPSTONE) in 2015.

Our science team is always excited about acts of predation when exploring the deep sea! Aside from learning more about the behaviors and associations of the organisms observed, these sorts of predation events were rarely documented prior to the beginning of NOAA’s Campaign to Address Pacific monument Science, Technology, and Ocean NEeds (CAPSTONE) in 2015. Click image for credit and larger view.

Dive 8 revealed another high density deep sea coral community at Wagner Seamount.

Dive 08 revealed another high-density deep-sea coral community at Wagner Seamount. Click image for credit and larger view.

This pair took our science team by surprise. These two Paralomis crabs appear to be in a delicate mating dance.

This pair took our science team by surprise. These two Paralomis crabs appear to be in a delicate mating dance. Click image for credit and larger view.

video Watch video of the "dancing" crabs.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 14, 2017

Dive 08: Wagner Seamount

Remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) arrived on bottom near the base of a volcanic pillow cone at a water depth of 2,428 meters (7,965 feet). The seafloor here was composed of talus of various sizes, including large boulders and some intact lava flow outcrops. Soon after, D2 transited over an extensive sheet flow, approximately one-meter-thick at 2,430 meters (7,972 feet) that persisted upslope. The dive started slow for biology observations with some low-density communities. As we transected up the slope of the cone feature, the community increased in density with Chrysogorgid corals, mushroom corals (Anthomastus sp.), and a diversity of black corals (Antipatharians) along the way. As the slope increased, a mix of sheet flow and pillow outcrops with talus were observed. Large, isolated boulders with abundant corals were seen atop mostly barren sheet flows. As D2 continued, the slope of the feature increased, but few fauna were observed. Upon reaching the summit of the cone, we were surrounded by a bamboo coral forest at 2,248 meters (7,375 feet). The high-density community was made up of large bamboo colonies all around with a diversity of octocorals, black corals, glass sponges, and more organisms interspersed between. A highlight of the dive was two crabs seen locking in what was determined to be a mating embrace. Other fauna observations included a diversity of brittle stars and rare or novel seastars and a potentially new species of sponge.


 


 

 

 

Rock samples collected during today’s dive, as well as every other dive, will be used to better understand the age and geologic history of this complex region.

Rock samples collected during today’s dive, as well as every other dive, will be used to better understand the age and geologic history of this complex region. Click image for credit and larger view.

Always an exciting find, this deep sea lizardfish was observed close to the shallow edge of the species depth range.

Always an exciting find, this deep-sea lizardfish was observed close to the shallow edge of the species depth range. Click image for credit and larger view.

A diverse, dense coral community was present throughout the dive at Debussy Seamount. Several colonies were very large, indicating a stable environment for many years.

A diverse, dense coral community was present throughout the dive at Debussy Seamount. Several colonies were very large, indicating a stable environment for many years. Click image for credit and larger view.

video Watch video from Dive 07.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 13, 2017

Dives 06 and 07: Debussy Seamount

Today we conducted two remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dives. The first, Dive 06, was aborted after a short time in the water due to a technical issue with ROV Deep Discoverer (D2). While our benthic team was disappointed, the ROVs are outfitted with sensors that collected valuable information about the water column during the descent and ascent that can be used to learn more about this largely unexplored biome. Once back on deck, the ROV team quickly debugged the issue, and we were back in the water a couple hours later.

Dive 07, though short, was exceptional. D2 landed on a low relief lava flow and rubble at a depth of 2,044 meters (6,706 feet). From the moment the vehicles reached the seafloor, a diverse coral community abounded. A novel find was a sea star predating upon a coral, as this was the first time a member of this genus of sea star has been observed eating a coral. Another unusual sighting was that of a deep-sea lizardfish at a depth of 2,031 meters (6,663 feet), the upper limit of its known depth range. As the vehicle traversed a large intact lava flow, the dense coral and sponge community continued. Alternating talus fields, intact lava flow units, and combinations of both were observed from 2,030 meters (6,663 feet) until end of the dive. The slope from beginning to end of the dive was almost negligible, and yet this dive possibly produced the most continuous high-density coral and sponge community of the expedition to date.


 


 

 

 

Rough seas and high winds to the port side of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.  Photo: Art Howard.

Rough seas and high winds to the port side of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. Click image for credit and larger view.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 12, 2017

Rough Sea State and High Winds Cancel Dive

While transiting overnight to today’s planned dive site at Liszt Seamount, the seas and winds picked up, creating a rocky ride for all on board. Unfortunately, by morning the conditions did not improve. The sea state was rough and winds were sustained at 25 knots (28 mph), making conditions unsuitable to safely launch the remotely operated vehicle. The Okeanos team decided to keep moving north towards Wednesday’s dive site at Debussy Seamount. All on board hunkered down and to catch up on dive summaries, vehicle maintenance, and other projects. Depending on how the seas and weather fair throughout the expedition, the team will try to return for a dive on Liszt Seamount later in the cruise.


 


 

 

 

Glass sponge observed at 2,730 meters while diving at Gounod Seamount on September 11, 2017.

Glass sponge observed at 2,730 meters (8,960 feet) while diving at Gounod Seamount on September 11, 2017. Click image for credit and larger view.

Sea spider measuring nearly 1 foot in diameter feeds on an anemone on Gounod Seamount.

A sea spider measuring nearly 30 centimeters (one foot) in diameter feeds on an anemone on Gounod Seamount. Click image for credit and larger view.

Dandelion siphonophore observed at Gounod Seamount. This community of zooids, making up the siphonophore, was anchored to the surrounding substrate.

Dandelion siphonophore observed at Gounod Seamount. This community of zooids, making up the siphonophore, was anchored to the surrounding substrate. Click image for credit and larger view.

video Watch video of a swimming polychaete worm seen during the dive.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 11, 2017

Dive 05: Gounod Seamount

The purpose of Dive 05 was to survey one of a series of small terraced features close to the summit of Gounod Seamount, characterize the distribution and abundance of benthic fauna, and to collect rock samples that can be used to determine the age and geochemistry of the feature. Remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) reached the base of the summit at a depth of 2,908 meters (9,540 feet). The team observed a talus slope consisting of various sizes of broken rock with sediment interspersed. A talus rock sample was collected from the landing area. Dead sponge stalks abounded, although few living animals were observed. As the dive continued, geological observations included alternating intact pillow flows, talus, and sheet flows. Biological observations included sparsely distributed sponges and corals, a polychaete, snails, a squat lobster, various fish, and a sea spider measuring nearly 30 centimeters (one foot) in diameter. While the steep wall did not harbor as dense of community as observed at shallower depths on other seamounts, there was a relatively high diversity and abundance organisms present in comparison to other dives at these depths. In the end, more living sponges were observed than corals, and there actually was an impressive abundance of diversity of life, with over 50 different organisms observed. The dive was slightly shortened due to escalating weather state and D2 left bottom at a water depth of 2,633 meters (8,638 feet).


 


 

 

 

On September 10, 2017 while exploring Sibelius Seamount, the team observed this garden of coral at a depth of 2,465 meters. This garden was one of two high-density communities observed during the dive.

On September 10, 2017, while exploring Sibelius Seamount, the team observed this garden of coral at a depth of 2,465 meters (8,080 feet). This garden was one of two high-density communities observed during the dive. Click image for credit and larger view.

This hatchetfish was spotted in the water column at a depth of 500 meters during midwater transects on September 10, 2017.

This hatchetfish was spotted in the water column at a depth of 500 meters (1,640 feet) during midwater transects on September 10, 2017. Click image for credit and larger view.

This vibrant yellow glass sponge (Bolosoma sp.) was observed at a depth of 2,479 meters while exploring Sibelius Seamount.

This vibrant yellow glass sponge (Bolosoma sp.) was observed at a depth of 2,479 meters (8,133 feet) while exploring Sibelius Seamount. Click image for credit and larger view.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 10, 2017

Dive 04: Sibelius Seamount and Midwater Transects

Today’s dive was the best of both worlds: exploration of both the seafloor and the water column. For the benthic portion of the dive, remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Deep Discoverer (D2) reached the seafloor of Sibelius Seamount at a depth 2,600 meters (8,530 feet), slowly climbed up the steep slope of a circular outcrop, and finally moved up the ridge to the flat summit of the seamount. Early on in the dive, the team observed a talus (broken rocks) slope with a relatively low density of animals, including jellyfish, a tumbling snail, sea cucumbers, and crinoids. As D2 moved up the slope, the density of animals greatly increased and we observed an ensemble of benthic organisms, including a variety of corals, sponges, echinoderms, sea stars, fishes like sorceress and cusk eels, and more. In total, the team observed two separate high-density communities.

After the benthic portion of the dive, the ROV pilots maneuvered D2 up through the water column and conducted 100-meter midwater transects at depths 800, 700, 600, 500, 400, and 300 meters. During the ascents between transect depths, the ROV tether was kept behind the vehicle so as not to disturb the water, and the ROVs ascended slowly at a speed of about 10 meters per minute. While exploring at various depths in the water column, the team observed siphonophores, ctenophores, salps, jellies, an eel, a hatchetfish and other fishes, and pteropods. D2 also got inked by a squid! This was the first of seven dives during this expedition that will be wholly or partially dedicated to water column exploration. The team is excited to continue exploring this largely unknown biome.


 


 

 

 

This high density coral and sponge community was observed at a depth of ~2,300 meters while exploring Beethoven Ridge.

This high-density coral and sponge community was observed at a depth of ~2,300 meters (7,545 feet) while exploring Beethoven Ridge. Click image for credit and larger view.

The team observed this unidentified glass sponge while exploring Beethoven Ridge on September 9, 2017. A small sample was collected to help the scientific community identify the sponge.

The team observed this unidentified glass sponge while exploring Beethoven Ridge on September 9, 2017. A small sample was collected to help the scientific community identify the sponge. Click image for credit and larger view.

Just one of many Anthomastus sp., a type of octocoral, observed at the summit of Beethoven Ridge.

Just one of many Anthomastus sp., a type of octocoral, observed at the summit of Beethoven Ridge. Click image for credit and larger view.

video Watch video from the dive.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 9, 2017

Dive 03: Beethoven Ridge

The Musicians Seamounts are largely unexplored and while small portions of this seamount group have been previously mapped during transits, the resolution of the existing data is often too low to plan a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dive track. Last night, the onboard mapping team collected higher resolution bathymetric data of Beethoven Ridge and the surrounding area. This data was reviewed by the science leads early this morning to finalize today’s dive track.

ROV Deep Discoverer reached the seafloor of Beethoven’s Ridge at a depth 2,525 meters (8,280 feet). Throughout the dive, the team observed a variety of geological features and a large high-density coral and sponge community. Geological observations included a talus field, which is a bunch of broken rocks of various sizes with sediment in between; dramatic lava flow outcrops; pillow lavas; and lobate lava. Biological observations included a variety of corals (many Anthomastus sp.), glass sponges, crinoids, an arrowtooth eel, a comb jelly, a sea toad, sea stars and brittle stars, sea pens, and more! We also observed several precious corals, which is a particularly interesting find as one observed type is known from the Hawaiian Islands.


 


 

 

 

This Primnoid coral was observed at a depth of approximately 3,280 meters while diving on “Beach Ridge”. Participating scientists suggest this may be a new genus due to the arrangement of the polyps on the main stalk.

This Primnoid coral was observed at a depth of approximately 3,280 meters (2.0 miles) while diving on “Beach Ridge.” Participating scientists suggest this may be a new genus due to the arrangement of the polyps on the main stalk. Click image for credit and larger view.

Glass sponges can provide habitat and protection for small organisms like this shrimp, observed at a depth of 3,146 meters.

Glass sponges can provide habitat and protection for small organisms like this shrimp, observed at a depth of 3,146 meters (1.95 miles). Click image for credit and larger view.

This chanux, a type of anglerfish, was observed at a depth of approximately 3,148 meters. Scientists observed this was an unusual find due to the bright red color and ciri on the fish’s body.

This chanux, a type of anglerfish, was observed at a depth of approximately 3,148 meters (1.96 miles). Scientists observed this was an unusual find due to the bright red color and ciri on the fish’s body. Click image for credit and larger view.

video Watch video from the dive.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 8, 2017

Dive 02: “Beach Ridge”

Dive 02 took place at a site the mission team dubbed “Beach Ridge,” after the American composer and pianist, Amy Marcy Cheney Beach. This was the first remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dive ever conducted in the Musicians Seamounts and the first in a series that will investigate the similarities and differences in community composition between different features across the Musicians Seamounts. We are particularly interested in the connectivity of coral and sponge communities and the possibility for endemism (endemic animals are those that exist only in one geographic region) in these areas. This dive transited upslope along a small ridge at the summit of this ridge-like volcanic construct. ROV Deep Discoverer reached the seafloor at 3,280 meters (~2 miles) and explored the ridge for approximately four hours. Throughout the dive, the team observed a glass sponge (Hyalonema sp.), at least two different types of shrimp, sea pens, cusk eel, an unusual chanux (a type of anglerfish), two types of black corals, and a swimming polychaete worm. The team also observed a Primnoid coral that may be a new genus and several colonies of Iridogorgia that are likely a significant depth range extension. Geological observations included broken pillow lava and talus, which are to be expected at the base of a ridge structure.

 

 


 


 

 

 

One of many sightings during today’s dive of a seastar feeding on coral. Here you can see a Calliaster sp. seastar tube feet feeding on bamboo coral.

One of many sightings during today’s dive of a seastar feeding on coral. Here you can see a Calliaster sp. sea star's tube feet feeding on bamboo coral. Click image for credit and larger view.

While at “Tropic of Cancer” Seamount, we observed a diversity of coral and sponge species. Shown here is a glass sponge and a diversity of octocorals.

While at “Tropic of Cancer” Seamount, we observed a diversity of coral and sponge species. Shown here is a glass sponge and a diversity of octocorals. Click image for credit and larger view.

video Watch video from the dive.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 7, 2017

Dive 01: “Tropic of Cancer” Seamount

Today’s dive took place at the “Tropic of Cancer” seamount, located about 90 nautical miles north of Oahu, Hawaii. The dive scaled the slope and crest of a ridge at the summit of the seamount. The seamount is isolated from surrounding seamounts and while there was some pre-existing mapping data, it had never been explored with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). The primary objective of today’s dive was to ground truth a deep-sea coral habitat suitability predictive model by NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, which had indicated this seamount may provide suitable habitat for dense and diverse deep-sea coral communities. As ROV Deep Discoverer reached the seafloor at 1,855 meters (6,085 feet), a diversity of corals immediately came into view. We encountered several different species of coral including bamboo corals, bubblegum corals, black corals, and mushroom corals. Several species were present in high density and many were very large, indicating an old colony. Other animals observed during the dive included a holothurian, a cutthroat eel, sea pens, a chanux (goosefish), shrimp, sponges, and a number of sea stars predating upon bamboo corals.


 


 

 

 

A U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer is deployed to the bow of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer during a training drill off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii.

A U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer is deployed to the bow of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer during a training drill off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii. Click image for credit and larger view.

A U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer prepares to deploy to the bow of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer during a training drill off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii. Image courtesy of Deep-Sea Symphony: Exploring the Musicians Seamounts expedition, Caitlin Bailey.

A U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer prepares to deploy to the bow of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer during a training drill off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii. Click image for credit and larger view.

 


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
September 6, 2017

Underway!

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer departed Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, this morning to begin the Deep-Sea Symphony: Exploring the Musicians Seamounts expedition. Once outside of the harbor, the ship made a short transit to the waters off Honolulu, Hawaii, to assist the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) with a helicopter training drill. The mission team watched on as two USCG helicopters took turns deploying a rescue swimmer and rescue basket down to the ship’s bow. The drills were a success and the Okeanos team is continuing to transit north of Oahu towards the first dive site at the “Tropic of Cancer” seamount. The team is looking forward to the expedition and to learning more about this largely unexplored area that lies just outside the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. While small portions of the Musicians Seamount group have been previously mapped during transits, dedicated mapping operations began during the August 2017 Okeanos Explorer telepresence mapping expedition. Our current expedition will continue mapping efforts during overnight transits and we will conduct the first exploration using remotely operated vehicles to increase understanding of this fascinating region. Be sure to tune in to see what we discover!


 


 

 

 

 

 

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