Cup corals (Desmophyllum) grow around an anemone on a mud-covered ledge. During the Deepwater Canyons 2013 expedition, scientists collected cup coral specimens to help them understand the factors that influence the distribution of this species and perhaps even solve the mystery of differences observed between the deep and shallow populations.
An octopus, sea star, bivalves, and cup corals all share the same overhang…
During the Deepwater Canyons 2013 expedition, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists are collecting samples of coral and invertebrates for later DNA analyses, to determine the numbers of different types of species in an area.
Why would they want this info? Well, preserving biodiversity is a central tenet in conservation biology, but before we can ascertain if we are doing a good job in protecting the biodiversity of a region, we need to know what’s there.
Deep under the sea surface lie “coral gardens” that rival flower gardens in terms of color and beauty. Scientists are studying the octocorals that make up these gardens to understand how long they live and how they reproduce, to ultimately help us understand and better protect these complex ecosystems…
Just like us, corals have bacteria that live in them and on them. These bacteria are a natural part of the coral’s biology (just like the bacteria in our guts) and are necessary for the health of the coral. However, we are still in the early stages of understanding which bacteria are present and what they are doing for the corals.
During the Deepwater Canyons 2013 expedition, scientists are collecting coral samples to help them understand which is more important in shaping the coral-associated bacterial community: host or habitat?
To catch Antarctic toothfish, you must bait your hook with Peruvian squid and cast it into the depths of the Ross Sea. This is what a team of Ukrainians did on a fishing trip near Antarctica. But sometimes, Mother Nature trips you up. Sometimes, you catch a hopbeard plunderfish.
In 2009-2010, Ukrainian mariners happened to pull up three fish that looked unfamiliar. Further analysis found that they were a previously undiscovered species, dubbed the hopbeard plunderfish and described in a study published online April 29 in the journal ZooKeys.
The fish bear the scientific name Pogonophryne neyelovi. The strange-looking denizens of the deep have brownish-splotched bodies and are shaped somewhat like tadpoles, especially when young, according to the study…
After several days of lost dives due to bad weather and making dives under difficult conditions, we are today in calm seas exploring an area that was discovered last year during a NOAA mapping cruise. While conducting a seafloor survey, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer found bubbles coming from the seafloor at a site south and offshore of Norfolk Canyon; they thought these bubbles may indicate a new methane seep site, but they had no way of verifying this idea.
Today, we deployed the Jason remotely operated vehicle (ROV) from the NOAA Ship Ron Brown to 1,600 meters (nearly a mile deep—our deepest dive yet!) to explore the area around those bubbles. After transecting over soft sediment for a short time, we saw some indications that we were getting close to a probable methane seep. These indications included white patches of bacteria on the sediment surface that feed on the methane and sulfides, plus shells of dead mussels, which are the dominant animals of methane seep communities…
Also known as the tentacle shedding anemone, the pom-pom anemone is a species of sea anemone found in deep water in the north east Pacific. Like other anemones the pom-pom anemone is a carnivore and will attempt to eat any small animals unfortunate enough to swim into its tentacles. Pom-pom anemones are also fed on by sea spiders who steal tentacles from it. Although it usually lives a sessile lifestyle, the pom-pom anemone does not attach its self to a substrate and it can roll itself up like a rug and drift with the current like a tumbleweed, stopping when it reaches a solid object.
The deep sea is rich with life, from fish to invertebrates to microbes. Hidden within the mud and rocks are numerous small animals (less than 1 millimeter) that are almost invisible to the naked eye. While small, they represent a major component of deep-sea diversity.
My research focuses on understanding and identifying the communities found within deep-sea sediments, called infauna, and characterizing their role in deep-sea food-webs. The basic questions that I’m addressing include: How many animals are in the sediment? What is the community composed of and who are the rare or most abundant species? What interactions occur among these species, including who is eating what or whom?
Basic patterns in species composition, abundance, and diversity can all be a function of the environment in which they live…
This ctenophore is the only species in the genus Lampoctena due to various differences between it and other comb jellies. Comb jellies are not actual jellyfish, as they propel themselves via the iridescent cilia instead of stinging tentacles.
In the depths of the ocean, the bright red color of the jellies appears black, allowing for good camouflage. Their color also helps cover the bioluminescent prey that it feeds on.
They are found in the depths of the Pacific Ocean near San Diego, but due to their coloration, are quite hard to find in the wild.
So-called zombie worms — and yes, they actually exist — like to munch on whale bones for dinner. The creatures also use the bones for shelter. Spread throughout the world’s oceans, zombie worms are quite adept at making the bones of whales and other large marine animals look like Swiss cheese.
But these worms don’t have any mouthparts with which to gnaw the holes. So how do they do it? A study published in the May 1 online edition of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B found that rather than being “bone-drilling” worms, they’re actually “bone-dissolving” worms: The worms’ skin produces acid in large quantities to break down bones…
Blanket octopuses (Tremoctopus violaceus) are immune to the venomous Portuguese man o’ war, whose tentacles the small male (pictured top with man-o-war tentacle) and immature females rip off and use for defensive purposes. Also, unlike many other octopuses, the blanket octopus does not use ink to intimidate potential predators. When threatened, the female (pictured bttm) unfurls her large net-like membranes that spread out and billow in the water, greatly increasing her apparent size.
Red light does not reach ocean depths, so deep-sea animals that are red actually appear black and thus are less visible to predators and prey.
As you travel from surface waters to deeper waters, the quantity of light changes; it decreases with depth. The quality of light also varies with depth. Sunlight contains all of the colors of our visible spectrum (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet). These colors combined together appear white.
Red light has the longest wavelength and, therefore, the least amount of energy in the visible spectrum. Wavelength decreases and energy increases as you move from red to violet light across the spectrum in the following order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet…
MBARI’s research expeditions sometimes yield encounters with extraordinary animals. During MBARI’s 2003 expedition to the Gulf of California, scientists spotted this massive jelly known as Stygiomedusa gigantea 1,300 meters below the surface of the Gulf. Its enormous reddish brown bell stretched about a meter (three feet) across and its oral arms were at least three meters (10 feet) long.
The researchers also collected a small fish in the genus Thalassobathia that was swimming over the jelly’s bell and among its billowing oral arms. In over 20 years of deep-sea dives, MBARI researchers have only seen Stygiomedusa jellies three times, so finding this drifting behemoth provided a truly memorable experience.
(via: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute)
* look at that frisky little Lumpfish (Psychlorutes sp.) clinging to the side of the bell :3