Océano Profundo 2018: Exploring Deep-Sea Habitats off Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Mission Logs

Follow along as participants in the cruise provide updates and reflections on their experiences, the science, the technology, and other elements of the expedition.

  • Favorite Moments From the Océano Profundo 2018 Expedition

    November 21, 2018  |  By Debi Blaney

    Embryonic cat shark and egg case attached to an octocoral colony.

    Here are some of our favorite moments and highlights from this expedition.

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  • New and Rare Stars In the Abyss of Puerto Rico

    November 18, 2018  |  By Chris Mah

    A potentially new species of <em>Evoplosoma</em> seen during Dive 12 of the Oceano Profoundo 2018 expedition.

    This mission log features five rarely seen or in some cases undescribed (i.e., new) species of sea stars that we have come across during Okeanos Explorer expeditions. Four of these were observations made during the 2015 and 2018 Océano Profundo expeditions to explore deep-sea habitats off Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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  • Sharks of the U.S. Caribbean

    November 15, 2018  |  By Michelle T. Schärer

    Scyliorhinus sp. catshark observed at east of Vieques Island 479 meters (1,571 feet) during Dive 2 of the Océando Profundo 2018 expedition.
    Unidentified shark seen

    Predation is a strong driver of the ecology of marine communities, and sharks are the main predatory force in many marine ecosystems. Publications on the diversity of sharks in the U.S. Caribbean are greatly limited when compared to other U.S. waters. To date, at least 42 species belonging to 15 families of sharks have been confirmed to exist in U.S. Caribbean waters based on specimen collections and DNA sequences.

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  • The Adventures of Deep Discoverer and Seirios – Deep-sea Exploration Explained to Children

    November 13, 2018  |  By Debi Blaney

    D2 and Seirios are exploring the ocean floor and meeting many new friends on their adventures.

    Our ocean covers most of our planet’s surface. It is very important to humans for many things, including the air we breathe, the food we eat, and our weather. But we know very little about our ocean because it is very deep, very big, and hard to explore. The pressure in the deep ocean is so great humans can’t travel there easily—it is easier for us to send astronauts into space than it is for humans to dive to the deepest parts of the ocean. The good news is that we have special robots designed to travel to the deepest and darkest places on Earth and see what things look like there.

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  • NOAA Corps and the Okeanos Explorer’s Wardroom Careers

    November 12, 2018  |  By Debi Blaney and NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer NOAA Corps Officers

    NOAA Ship <em>Okeanos Explorer</em> NOAA Corps Officers

    NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer is run by a highly trained and dedicated team of NOAA Corps officers. Exploring the deep sea is a complex undertaking that would not be possible without their skills and commitment to keeping everyone on board safe, while efficiently navigating the ship through high and low waters.

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  • Armed Sea Stars

    November 11, 2018  |  By Chris Mah

    Seven-armed starfish observed on Dive 6 of the Océano Profundo 2018 expedition at the Inés María Mendoza Nature Reserve off Punta Yeguas on the southeast shore of Puerto Rico.

    Sea stars, also called starfish or asteroids, are known for their distinctive five-part symmetry, a characteristic which identifies not only sea stars, but all of their modern relatives including the brittle stars, sea urchins, feather stars and even the worm-like sea cucumbers. What is less commonly known, however, is that many sea star species regularly possess more than five rays, also called arms.

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  • The Deck Crew’s Souvenirs of Ink - A Brief History of a Seafarer’s Tattoos

    November 9, 2018  |  By Debi Blaney

    Pete’s tattoo of an anchor on his left leg signifies him being part of the deck department.

    Sailing on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, there are two things one might notice about the deck crew: first, that they are extremely dedicated to and good at their jobs and second, that they sport a lot of tattoos. Mariners have a rich culture of body art dating as far back as the 16th century, but the history of tattoos in general dates back much farther than that.

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  • Holothurian Hill

    November 7, 2018  |  By Chris Mah

    Swimming sea cucumbers like Enypniastes eximia have a special 'flap' which they use to 'lift' themselves off the seafloor.

    The swimming sea cucumber, Enypniastes eximia, sometimes referred to as the “headless chicken monster,” is a widespread species present in the abyss. It is encountered widely around the world with records from the Gulf of Mexico, Tropical Atlantic, East Atlantic, New Zealand, and the Southern Ocean (Antarctica).

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  • Urchin Poop in the Deep-Sea: Connecting to the Surface

    November 6, 2018  |  By Chris Mah

    Urchin poop
    Urchin poop

    Today we saw a deep-sea sea urchin poop! Yes, it’s true! Sea urchins, like many animals, will expel poop from their digestive systems following the digestion of food. The sea urchin poop we saw today represents the amazing connectivity between photosynthetic food from the ocean’s surface and the deep sea.

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  • A Monumental Dive – Deep-sea Exploration in the Buck Island Reef National Monument

    November 4, 2018  |  By Clayton Pollock

    Collecting a sample

    Dive 3 of the Océano Profundo 2018 expedition on November 2, 2018, took place at depths between 1,600-1,800 meters (5,250-5,905 feet), inside Buck Island Reef National Monument. This was a special dive, as it explored the deepest areas ever surveyed inside the Monument and was also the deepest dive ever conducted within a conservation area managed by the U.S. National Park Service.

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  • Fish in a Bottle

    November 1, 2018  |  By Bruce Mundy

    Fish in a bottle.

    During Dive 2 of the expedition, we observed this fish, which is a stripefin brotula, Neobythites marginatus. The species is in the brotula family Ophidiidae, commonly known as cusk eels, but they are neither true eels or cusks (relatives of codfish).

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  • You Gotta Keep ‘Em Calibrated

    October 31, 2018  |  By Lars Murphy

    Preparing to deploy the USBL transponder.

    The USBL (ultra-short baseline) system is used to determine the position of Deep Discoverer and Seirios while the vehicles are in the water. The accuracy of the system can vary greatly depending on many factors. A calibration is designed to maximize the accuracy of the system by identifying errors associated with the specific location of the transceiver on the ship’s hull. We decided to re-calibrate the USBL system before the first dive of the expedition.

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