This deep sea octopus was seen on July 21, 2011, during the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Galápagos Rift Expedition.
Discovery of deep-sea hydrothermal vents and associated biological communities on the Galápagos Rift in 1977 profoundly and permanently changed our view of the deep sea and revolutionized the oceanographic and Earth sciences. In 2011, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer returned to the Galápagos region to explore the water column and diversity of benthic (bottom) environments.
Unlike animals on land or in shallow water – where skin, fur, and feather coloration may differ within habitats like hues on an artist’s palette – deep-sea animals follow a surprisingly regular pattern in their coloration.
Blue animals in the ocean live near the surface. Deeper down, animals are blue on top and white on the bottom. At greater depths, animals are generally transparent, but have red stomachs. Below that, animals are red or black over their entire bodies. Finally, at the bottom, almost all animals are either a pale red or a cream color. The most likely explanation for this distribution is camouflage (color that blends in with the surroundings)…
Dive 12, August 13, Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition 2013
A chimaera swims lazily a couple meters above the seafloor in Lydonia Canyon. Chimeras, sometimes called Ghost Sharks or ratfishes, are a group of cartilaginous fishes, elasmobranchs, along with sharks and rays. Many species, such as this one, are dwellers of the deep ocean.
Zombie worms (Osedax spp.) may be small, but these ghoulish animals feast on the bones of whales and fish on the ocean floor. And they do it without having a mouth or stomach! First they dissolve the bones with an acid secreted in their skin. Then, they grab the nutrients released from the bones with the help of symbiotic bacteria that digest the proteins and fats for them.
Off of the Northeast US Canyons the Okeanos Explorer found a Greenland Shark! These sharks can be between 8-16ft long and weight 880lbs. This shark is normally found in Northern Atlantic waters, but has recently been found as far south as the Gulf of Mexico. Scientists have attributed this wide range of habitat to the fact that deep sea environments, even in warmer environments, resemble the natural habitat of the Greenland Shark.
Two red Anthomastus octocoral (a large one and small one), a squat lobster (Munidopsis sp.), an unidentified species of anemone, and several shrimp on a rocky outcrop, deep sea, from the Gulf of Mexico 2012 Expedition.
Image courtesy of the NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.
Benthothuria funebris is a deep sea benthic Holothurian (sea cucumber) that is known to cast itself into the water column with a vigrorous wriggling undulation, and swim away to escape predators. They are found in the deep sea along the Mid Atlantic Ridge from the Azores to southern Iceland, and along the coast of Mauritania in western Africa. Little is known of their natural history and ecology.
First-Ever Submarine Dive on Vancouver’s “Living Fossils”: Glass Sponge Reefs
Researchers discover a seafloor oasis made of hundreds of glass sponges.
by Anne Casselman
Howe Sound, British Columbia—Through the submersible’s acrylic viewport, a large patch of glass sponges looms up from the seafloor of Howe Sound (map), a network of fjords located on Vancouver’s doorstep. The sponges glow creamy white and orange under the sub’s high-intensity lamps and extend across a 40-foot-high (12.2-meter-high) mound.
"Topside, topside, be advised we have sponge at this location," senior pilot Jeff Heaton says into his communication system from a depth of 135 ft (41.1 m).
"This is a sponge reef," says Heaton from inside the inch-thick (2.5-centimeter-thick) steel hull of the Aquarius submersible, a three-person vehicle owned and operated by Nuytco Research. “No doubt about it.”
This week, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and Nuytco Research mounted the first submarine expedition to the glass sponge reefs found in Georgia Strait off of Vancouver.
The expedition aims to check on the status of these sponge reefs, which currently have no protection from damage by fishing activities, and to raise awareness of their existence…
Phylogenetic studies based on morphology have generally placed the goblin shark as the most basal member of the order Lamniformes, known as mackerel sharks. Studies using genetic data have also supported a basal position for this species.
The family Mitsukurinidae, represented by Mitsukurina, Scapanorhynchus, and Anomotodon, dates back to the Aptian age of the Cretaceous period. Mitsukurina itself first appears in the fossil record during the Middle Eocene extinct species include M. lineata and M. maslinensis.Striatolamia macrota, which lived in warm shallow waters during the Paleogene, may also be a Mitsukurina species. As the last member of an ancient lineage, and one that retains several “primitive” traits, the goblin shark has been described as a “living fossil”…
Bacteria-Eating Crabs Call Seafloor Mud Volcano Home
by Becky Oskin
A bacterial mat sounds like the festering remains of a long-ago meal, not the main course. But crabs living on a methane-spewing mud volcano were recently spotted munching on a tangled, filmy web of bacteria, providing new evidence that the deep-sea creatures rely on a mixed diet.
Researchers report today (Oct. 7) in the journal PLOS ONE that lithodid crabs, part of the lumpy, bumpy family that includes the Alaskan king crab, repeatedly snacked on bacteria offshore of Costa Rica in 2005. “As far as we know, deep-sea crabs feeding on bacterial mats were discovered only one single time before,” study co-author Peter Linke, a senior scientist at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany, said in a statement…