A splendid perch observed towards the top of the pinnacle feature surveyed along the southwest coast of Niihau. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2015 Hohonu Moana. Download larger version (jpg, 456 KB).
Dive 02 of Leg 4 was conducted on a pinnacle feature on the southwest coast of Niihau. This was the first-ever exploration of this region and the main objective of the dive was to learn more about fish and precious corals located here. ROV Deep Discoverer (D2) began the dive over pillow lava flows with some precious corals at a depth of 538 meters. During the transit upslope, D2 encountered a number of arthropods, sea stars, and other echinoderms; a diversity of corals that included bamboo corals, precious corals, gorgonians, scleractinians, and black corals; at least 12 species of fish; and a potentially undescribed species of octopus that was a rare observation at that depth. The dive ended at a depth of 312 meters amongst a diverse, dense bed of deep-sea corals. Two corals, a sea pen, and one rock sample were collected during this dive. Prior to collecting one of the coral samples, all of the ROV lights were turned off, and for the first time, D2 captured high resolution imagery of in situ bioluminescence!