Okeanos Explorer
31 Images

NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer in the Marianas Trench

Coral gardens don’t only occur in shallow waters; they are also found in the deep sea. A Paragorgia bubblegum coral with commensal brittle stars, or ophiuroids, is seen at right. A pink anemone surrounded by hydroids can be seen in the foreground.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

The Deep Discoverer ROV images a 45-foot-high extinct hydrothermal vent chimney. The chimney was probably once a high-temperature black smoker, built by hot, chemical-rich fluids created by seawater percolating downward and interacting with hot magma within the dome.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

A deep-sea coral garden on a carbonate platform seen from ROV Deep Discoverer. The ROV’s bioboxes, tool tray and manipulator arm are visible.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

Scientists identified this jellyfish as probably a new species belonging to the genus Crossota. The hydromedusa was seen during a dive on April 24 while exploring the Enigma Seamount 1,200 feet below the surface.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

This purple sea cucumber appears to have a polychaete worm sheltering underneath it.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

Ghostsharks or rabbitfish are most closely related to sharks and rays and are only known to occur in deep water.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

An echinothuriid urchin walks along the deep-sea floor in the Marianas region. The urchin is known as a deposit feeder, with its mouth on the underside of the body.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

A 100-foot-tall hydrothermal vent gushes black smoke-like fluid, which is full of metal particulates. These metals help to build vast chimney structures.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

A closer look at the hydrothermal vent.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

Blind Chorocaris shrimp huddle together on the spire of a hydrothermal vent. These shrimp number in the thousands near the warm waters of the vent chimneys.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

This deep-sea goosefish or anglerfish, Sladenia remiger, is one of the stranger-looking fish the Okeanos Explorer has encountered. These fish use modified fins to walk and rest on the seafloor. 

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

A closeup of the goosefish’s skin.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

A young synaphobranchid eel.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

This cusk eel (Bassozetus sp.) is easily identified because of its circular head and small beady eyes.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

Bassogigas cusk eel. Cusk eels are one of the most common but least well-known groups of  deep-sea fish.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

A close-up of the cusk eel.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

A cusk eel swims by a pillow lava formation.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

A rare sighting of a lizardfish (Bathysaurus mollis) swimming in the water column. These fish are usually observed resting on the deep-sea floor.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

A silver scabbardfish (Lepidopus caudatus).

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

A Nematocarcinus shrimp with an unknown parasite on its back.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

A duckbilled fish (Chrionema chryseres) has been seen on several shallower ROV dives in the Marianas region.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

These two types of deep-sea barnacles extend their cirri, as the bristly structures are known, into the water to filter feed. They were seen during the dive at Santa Rosa North.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

Goniasterid sea stars are commonly seen predators on deep-sea coral, leaving the skeleton exposed.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

A community of Paragorgia coral is seen with commensal brittle stars and squat lobsters.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

A commensal brittle star with its arms entwined tightly around a deep-sea octocoral.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

The Deep Discoverer ROV views a deep-sea coral community on a carbonate platform at Santa Rosa North off Guam.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

A sixgill shark is seen in the distance among a deep-sea coral garden west of Guam.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

The camera sled Seirios captured this image of the Deep Discoverer ROV exploring a carbonate platform at Santa Rosa Bank off Guam.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

Pillow basalts are only created in an undersea environment. As the lava flow erupts underwater, it meets cold seawater and immediately begins to solidify in all directions, forming a tubular or circular rock.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

This seafloor lava flow is less than 2 years old. The lava flows were turned solid by cold seawater and formed a series of tubes that are known as pillow basalts.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

These sedimented pillow basalts show how the lava erupted onto the seafloor and solidified into these tubular shapes.

 (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)
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