A spectacular image of a benthopelagic sea cucumber swimming in the near freezing waters of the abyss, approximately 3200 meters deep.

A spectacular image of a benthopelagic sea cucumber swimming in the near freezing waters of the abyss, approximately 3200 meters deep. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, INDEX-SATAL 2010. Download larger version (jpg, 660 KB).

Dive 5: Swimming Cuke
July 27, 2010
Latitude: 2d 49.816' N
Longitude: 124d 58.871' E
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Swimming Cucumber

View spectacular video footage of a benthopelagic sea cucumber swimming in the near freezing waters of the abyss, approximately 3200 meters deep. The footage was captured by the Little Hercules ROV and camera platform during ROV dives from NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer during the INDEX SATAL 2010 Expedition. Video courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, INDEX-SATAL 2010. Download (mp4, 28.0 MB)

Today's dive took place on the deep southwestern portion of "Site K", near the base of the submarine volcano. The substrate was totally covered in soft sediment. Few exposed rocks were observed. Fauna colonizing these rocks included one morphotype of sea fan, one of black coral, a couple of sea lilies and glass sponges. Sediment fauna was dominated by sea cucumbers, particularly of a translucent benthopelagic species, which seem to be producing significant amounts of bioturbation. At least 5 different species of sea cucumbers were observed. Brittle stars were observed but were not nearly as abundant as seen in shallower depths. Other conspicous fauna included rattail fish, acorn worms and shrimp. Despite being a deep site on soft bottom, the abundance of epibenthic fauna seemed relatively high. The predominant current had a direction of 330deg and a speed of 0.15 knots.