A squat lobster at home in its octocoral. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Deepwater Wonders of Wake. Download larger version (jpg, 818 KB).
Dive 5: Deepwater Denizens
During the fifth dive of the expedition, on an unnamed seamount at a depth of ~2,600 meters, scientists believe that they found the bottom of the area's dense coral and sponge community depth range. While the animals seen on the dive were spread out, from a variety of corals to fish and crinoids, scientists encountered a lot of diversity during the dive. Video courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Deepwater Wonders of Wake. Download larger version (mp4, 78.6 MB).
We had a good dive today, because we think we found the bottom of the dense coral and sponge community depth range. The animals were a bit spread out, but there was actually lots of diversity. Highlights included a pretty rare black coral, a "fatty fingers" seastar (Pedicillasteridae), a fair number of Pleurogorgia militaris, some sea cucumbers, sponges, shrimp, crinoids, and a bunch of other things. The substrate took the spotlight, though, with clearly visible pillow lavas even though the seamount is quite old and manganese-crusted. We grabbed a wonderful piece of an actual pillow that will be quite valuable to the geologists. After we got the remotely operated vehicles back on deck, we fired up the mapping sonars and set off for our next dive site.