A rare observation of an aplacophoran (shell-less mollusk) feeding on a bamboo coral. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2015 Hohonu Moana. Download larger version (jpg, 1.2 MB).
Today’s dive transited up the slopes of a pair of associated cones (one cone appearing to arise from the shoulder of the other) on an unnamed seamount/guyot plateau at the southernmost point of our expedition. Overall densities of sessile fauna were lower than observed yesterday on the “Two Cones” dive, including at the summit of the feature. However, there was a moderate diversity of corals and sponges, including several species of octocorals, precious corals, and black corals not seen on Two Cones. Again, very few fish were seen; however, there was one new observation, of a sea toad (Chaunocops cf. melanostomus). Exciting observations from today's dive included an aplacophoran, or shell-less mollusk, actively feeding on a bamboo coral and a rarely seen stalked sponge (Caulophacus). We were able to collect three rocks, one unidentified stalked crinoid with a parasitic snail, and a fragment of a bamboo coral with a squat lobster.