Dive 14: Octopus
This dumbo octopus was observed resting on the seafloor before it took off, gliding through the water as if flying, propelled by the fins behind its eyes. Video courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Discovering the Deep: Exploring Remote Pacific MPAs. Download (mp4, 31.0 MB)
This dive started on a sedimented seafloor at 1,535 meters depth and progressed up a steep slope on an unnamed seamount within the Winslow Reef Area, Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA). Throughout the dive, we observed several live and dead Walteria-like glass sponges, loaded with associates, including ophiuroids, crinoids, barnacles, shrimp, ctenophores, and sea stars. Sponges, including some encrusting types, were seen on the dive. Iridogorgia cf. magnispiralis was the dominant octocoral present and several colonies were very large, being about 3.7 meters. Other corals observed included an unknown planar Chrysogorgiid octocoral, three species of sea pens, whip and a yellow nodal branching bamboo corals, pink coralliid (Hemicorallium sp.), black coral, and stony corals including unknown cup corals. Additional associates included squat lobsters and barnacles on dead coral skeleton. Fish included cusk eels, rattails, codling, deep-sea spiny eels, a cutthroat eel, and an unknown black fish, later identified as a whalefish. Other invertebrates observed included a blind lobster, stalked crinoids, sea cucumbers, sea stars, sea urchins, homolid crab with anemone associate, and xenophyophores. One of the highlights of the dive was observing a dumbo octopus with a damaged arm and fin taking flight during the first part of the dive. The scientists also observed some examples of carnivory, including a sea spider feeding on an anemone, sea stars feeding on sponges, and gastropods parasitizing a crinoid and grazing on corals. At the conclusion of the dive, the Okeanos Explorer headed south and will be diving at an unnamed seamount in PIPA to the northwest of McKean Island tomorrow.