Pacific is full of life, but what is more intriguing is that the deeper we dive, the more bizarre lifeforms we encountered. Just recently biologist from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( NOAA ) finished their three-week expedition to the American Samoa region of the Pacific.
The team sent remotely operated ship Okeanos Explorer to depths of 4 km in hope to discover new species. The ship sailed three marine sanctuaries: the National Park of American Samoa, the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa and the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument. For 10 days of dive run, they discovered few and never seen before bizarre lifeforms, with the potential to finding dozens of sponges, mollusks, and sea stars. According to NOAA team member Santiago Herrera much remains unknown about the deep-sea habitats and geology in and around these protected places.
However, this expedition has successfully managed to find some really unusual life forms and present them to the public.
Venus Flytrap Anemone
This unusual creature is caught in the northern region of the American Samoa for the first time. Usually, this species lives in deep water canyons in the Gulf of Mexico. Venus flytrap has tentacles with stinging cells that are full of poison. Similar to its terrestrial counterpart, sea anemone closes its tentacles to capture prey.
One of the most unexpected encounters was this beautiful ctenophore, caught in the water column in seamount of active, underwater volcano Vailulu’u. The rows of cilia across its body refract light in the rainbow as the ctenophore moves through the Pacific deep waters.
The expedition discovered this UFO – like creature at the Utu Seamount of the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. It is caught at a depth of 3 km. Yellow parts of jellyfish’s body are actually reproductive organs, while red parts are digestive system.
This hydroid is closely related to most jellyfishes. NOAA team filmed it at the depth of 3,770 meters while exploring ‘Leoso’ seamount ( between the American Samoa Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the Cook Islands EEZ ).
Armored sea robins are related to the sea robins found in shallow water along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts of the U.S. It’s walking on two tiny stick-figure legs, but it’s also got horn-like projections on each side of its muzzle. NOAA filmed it at the Ta’u Unit of National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa.
Obviously, Pacific waters are very challenging for explorations. The diversity of life is perhaps most visible in the depths of an ocean.