Cusk eel with unusual head shape: the large bulbous head features small eyes, large nostrils, and a mouth placed low on the head. This distinctive-looking animal could be a new species.

Cusk eel with unusual head shape: the large bulbous head features small eyes, large nostrils, and a mouth placed low on the head. This distinctive-looking animal could be a new species. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas. Download larger version (jpg, 524 KB).

Dive 12: Unnamed Forearc Seamount
21.58°N, 145.53°E, 3,315 meters
June 29, 2016
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Six Foot Long Anemone

The tentacles on this anemone, likely Relicanthus, stretched for an impressive six-plus feet. Video courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas. Download (mp4, 66.7 MB)

Dive 12 was conducted on a serpentinite mud volcano to explore the site for active seeps – none were observed – and associated fauna. The seafloor showed uniformly light sediment with scattered pebbles and larger rocks, some with a light manganese coating, as well as a number of elongated depressions of unknown origin – potentially whale feeding tracks or sleeper shark marks. While the fauna was sparse at this site, remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer (D2) did encounter holothurians, urchins, brittle stars, shrimp, sea cucumbers, anemones, sponges, and eels. Noteworthy observations included a cusk eel with a large, bulb-like head featuring small eyes and enlarged nostrils and anemones (Relicanthus sp.) attached to stalks of a hexactinellid sponge. One of the anemones had tentacles up to two meters long!