These rarely seen deep-sea creatures seem from another world
An NOAA ship is exploring uncharted areas of the deep Pacific; the life they're finding is dazzling beyond imagination.
From February to April 2017, the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer is exploring the unknown and poorly known deepwater areas in American Samoa, Samoa, and the Cook Islands, paying special attention to the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument (RAMNM) and the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa (NMSAS).
WIth 13,581 square miles of protected areas of nearshore coral reef and offshore open ocean waters across the Samoan archipelago, the aim of their mission is to provide a foundation of baseline information to help the Sanctuary and Monument understand and manage its resources. It also serves as an opportunity to highlight "the uniqueness and importance of these national symbols of ocean conservation," notes the expedition's site, adding:
Despite the role that the ocean plays in supporting our well-being, 95 percent of the world’s ocean remains unexplored using advanced technologies. Exploratory missions, such as those conducted via Okeanos Explorer, are necessary to expand our knowledge of the unknown and to provide baseline data for resource managers. Increasing baseline knowledge of ocean habitats is critical to the conservation and preservation of these remarkable ecosystems.
And just how remarkable are those ecosystems? Take a look at some of the life forms who call it their home.
Brisingid sea star© NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research A brisingid sea star clings to a ferromanganese cobble.
Dandelion siphonophoreThis potentially new species of dandelion siphonophore was imaged on the deep slopes of Rose Atoll. See it in all of its undulating glory in the video above.
Yellow zoanthids© NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research Yellow zoanthids colonizing the base of a dead golden octocoral skeleton with several living colonies of golden octocorals in the background.
Cosmic jellyfishThis glowing light-up UFO jellyfish is so wild that I covered it separately, but am including it again here with the rest of its friends. Read more about it here: Exquisite 'cosmic' jellyfish glimpsed in the mysterious depths ... but in the meantime, see it in action above.
Brittle star© NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research Slinking along the sea floor using their flexible arms for locomotion, brittle stars (ophiuroids) are echinoderms in the class Ophiuroidea closely related to starfish. Here, a chrysogorgiid octocoral seen with an ophiuroid brittle star associate on bare coral skeleton.
Venus flytrap anemoneAnd the most wonderfully weird one of all, the venus flytrap anemone.
For more information and to watch a livestream, visit the Okeanos Explorer page here.