Deep Sea Predation

Okeanos Explorer EX1402L3: Gulf of Mexico 2014 Expedition
April 28, 2014: Sea Urchin

A rare instance of deep-sea predation captured on camera—a sea urchin munches on a Plumarella octocoral. This may be the first time sea urchin predation on coral was captured so close-up using high-definition cameras thanks to the incredible image capabilities of the Deep Discoverer remotely operated vehicle.

Video courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.

The mushroom coral, Anthomastus ritteri, lives off the coast of California and Mexico to depths as great as 3,000 meters (nearly 2 miles). It is a soft coral in the subclass Octocorallia. Octocorals resemble the stony corals, but lack the distinctive stony skeleton. They have polyps with only eight tentacles. Those showy tentacles contain poisonous stinging cells that capture tiny animals drifting by. It gets its name because when the polyps are pulled in, it looks like a mushroom. This individual was observed by MBARI’s ROV Tiburon at a depth of 1460 m on Davidson Seamount, 70 nautical mi SW of Monterey, CA, USA.
(via: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute)

The mushroom coral, Anthomastus ritteri, lives off the coast of California and Mexico to depths as great as 3,000 meters (nearly 2 miles). It is a soft coral in the subclass Octocorallia. Octocorals resemble the stony corals, but lack the distinctive stony skeleton. They have polyps with only eight tentacles. Those showy tentacles contain poisonous stinging cells that capture tiny animals drifting by. It gets its name because when the polyps are pulled in, it looks like a mushroom.

This individual was observed by MBARI’s ROV Tiburon at a depth of 1460 m on Davidson Seamount, 70 nautical mi SW of Monterey, CA, USA.

(via: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute)

It’s the deep sea’s version of a Christmas tree: 
This large pink sea fan belongs to the genus Paragorgia. This specimen is nearly two m tall and is held in place by a “holdfast” nearly 12 cm in diameter. It holds within its branches a thriving community of brittle stars, crabs, and shrimp - giving it the appearance of a well-decorated Christmas tree. 
Image courtesy of Exploring Alaska’s Seamounts 2002, NOAA/OER. 
(Image source: Ocean Explorer)

It’s the deep sea’s version of a Christmas tree:

This large pink sea fan belongs to the genus Paragorgia. This specimen is nearly two m tall and is held in place by a “holdfast” nearly 12 cm in diameter. It holds within its branches a thriving community of brittle stars, crabs, and shrimp - giving it the appearance of a well-decorated Christmas tree.

Image courtesy of Exploring Alaska’s Seamounts 2002, NOAA/OER.

(Image source: Ocean Explorer)

NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research
For Black Friday, instead of shopping, we give you a black coral. This coral and associated shrimp were seen on the eastern scarp above the West Florida Escarpment in the Gulf of Mexico. Black corals vary in tissue color, but their skeletons are black; you can see the black skeleton in this image, if you look closely just under the pink tissue. (Source: NOAA Ocean Explorer)

For Black Friday, instead of shopping, we give you a black coral. This coral and associated shrimp were seen on the eastern scarp above the West Florida Escarpment in the Gulf of Mexico. Black corals vary in tissue color, but their skeletons are black; you can see the black skeleton in this image, if you look closely just under the pink tissue.

(Source: NOAA Ocean Explorer)

Pink-tinted marine cauliflower, anyone? 
Or rather, Dendronephthya, the Carnation corals. These soft corals are tempting to aquarium hobbyists because of their dazzling colors (pink, red, blue, yellow, white…) but be warned: they do not photosynthesize (like many corals), so they rely exclusively on filter feeding for nutrition and are very difficult to keep healthy in captivity. If you are in love with this pretty animal, consider visiting at a public aquarium, or at its home in the western Indo-Pacific instead! Read more: Encyclopedia of Life Photo: Nick Hobgood, CC-BY-SA

Pink-tinted marine cauliflower, anyone?

Or rather, Dendronephthya, the Carnation corals. These soft corals are tempting to aquarium hobbyists because of their dazzling colors (pink, red, blue, yellow, white…) but be warned: they do not photosynthesize (like many corals), so they rely exclusively on filter feeding for nutrition and are very difficult to keep healthy in captivity. If you are in love with this pretty animal, consider visiting at a public aquarium, or at its home in the western Indo-Pacific instead!

Read more: Encyclopedia of Life

Photo: Nick Hobgood, CC-BY-SA

Pretty in Pink
Extending its arms 8 inches (20 cm) across, a pink crab perches on a bed of soft coral 2,310 feet (740 meters) deep in the Sangihe Talaud region off of Indonesia. The Little Hercules ROV captured this image of the colorful critter during a 2010 ocean expedition. Crabs like these are only found living on soft coral.
Credit: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, INDEX-SATAL 2010
(via: Live Science)

Pretty in Pink

Extending its arms 8 inches (20 cm) across, a pink crab perches on a bed of soft coral 2,310 feet (740 meters) deep in the Sangihe Talaud region off of Indonesia. The Little Hercules ROV captured this image of the colorful critter during a 2010 ocean expedition. Crabs like these are only found living on soft coral.

Credit: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, INDEX-SATAL 2010

(via: Live Science)

Carnation Corals (Dendronephthya)
Strikingly beautiful carnation corals in the genus Dendronephthya are among the most commonly traded soft corals. However, these corals are poor choices for aquarium hobbyists. Since they lack algal symbionts (zooxanthellae), they must extract all of their food from the water. But getting the right balance of nutrients is difficult in an aquarium, so most captive Dendronephthya die within a few weeks.
This spectacular specimen, hanging out with an egg cowrie snail, was photographed in the wild in North Sulawesi by Bernard Dupont. It comes to EOL via Flickr (cc-by-nc-sa): http://www.flickr.com/photos/berniedup/7970532646/More about these corals: http://eol.org/pages/41372

Carnation Corals (Dendronephthya)

Strikingly beautiful carnation corals in the genus Dendronephthya are among the most commonly traded soft corals. However, these corals are poor choices for aquarium hobbyists. Since they lack algal symbionts (zooxanthellae), they must extract all of their food from the water. But getting the right balance of nutrients is difficult in an aquarium, so most captive Dendronephthya die within a few weeks.

This spectacular specimen, hanging out with an egg cowrie snail, was photographed in the wild in North Sulawesi by Bernard Dupont. It comes to EOL via Flickr (cc-by-nc-sa): http://www.flickr.com/photos/berniedup/7970532646/

More about these corals: http://eol.org/pages/41372

astronomy-to-zoology

astronomy-to-zoology:

Gorgonian Wrapper (Nemanthus annamensis)

Also known as the Zebra-striped Gorgonian Wrapper as an reference to its coloration, the Gorgonain Wrapper is a species of colonial sea anemone found throughout the Indo-Pacific. This cnidarian is commonly found in strings of individual polyps all of which with individual tentacles.

Phylogeny

Animalia-Cnidaria-Anthozoa-Hexacorallia-Actiniaria-Nemanthidae-Nemanthus-annamensis

Image source(s)

astronomy-to-zoology

astronomy-to-zoology:

Dead man’s fingers (Alcyonium digitatum)

is a species of soft coral commonly found off the coasts of the north Atlantic. Like most corals this species is a colony of small animals called zooids. These colonies attach themselves to the bedrock or large stones, some colonies have also been seen growing on the shells of crabs and large gastropods. Like all corals A. digitatum is a suspension feeder filtering the water and taking in any plankton and oxygen they find.

Phylogeny

Animalia-Cnidaria-Anthozoa-Octocorallia-Alcyonacea-Alcyoniidae-Alcyonium-digitatum

Image Sources: 1,2