A Lepidisis coral imaged shortly before collecting it for further analysis.

A Lepidisis coral imaged shortly before being collected for further analysis. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas. Download larger version (jpg, 997 KB).

Dive 2: Santa Rosa South
April 22, 2016
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Fish

A few of the different fish encountered during the second dive of the 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas expedition while exploring Santa Rosa Reef near Guam. Video courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas. Download (mp4, 36.0 MB)

Dive 2 was conducted at Santa Rosa South to search for precious coral and bottomfish habitats. We began the dive at 578 meters and transited upslope along a ridge for ~900 meters. The beginning of the dive took place in an area of fractured volcanic rocks, possibly small, broken pillow or lobate flows. We saw numerous organisms in this area, including octocorals, scleractinian corals, squat lobsters, crabs, echinoderms, and many interesting fish. Around 350 meters, we entered a flat area that was covered with individuals of a small, white branched organism – we originally identified this as a type of sponge, but on closer investigation believe that it is a coral (likely Stylasteridae). Unfortunately, the animal was too fragile to collect, but we were able to get some great imagery of it. We also came across a couple of dead Primnoid corals that were colonized by anemones, barnacles, and many crinoids; one had a massive basket star wrapped up in it. We collected two carbonate rocks, one of which appears to be encrusted with manganese. We also collected a stalked crinoid, a deep-sea bamboo coral (Lepidisis), and a Madrepora scleractinian coral upon which a cup coral and squat lobster were living, The dive ended around 250 meters on a carbonate platform. Another fantastic dive under our belts!