Diverse and resilient, deep sea sponges thrive on rocky surfaces with ample current. These filter feeders, members of the phylum Porifera, are considered to be the simplest animals on the planet, yet the forms they take are some of the most diverse and intricate you will see at these depths.
These images come from the slopes of the Liliʻuokalani Ridge Seamounts within Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, one of the largest marine protected areas in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site for culture and nature.
Album curated by Science Communication Fellow Christopher Clauss.
(Identifications are preliminary and may change with further examination by experts, but come from v3 of the NOAAsBenthic Deepwater Animal Identification Guide.)
This expedition will have E/V Nautilus returning to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) to build on the accomplishments of the 2021 Luʻuaeaahikiikalipolipo expedition, which mapped the previously unmapped Liliʻuokalani Ridge Seamounts. The team returns for the first visual exploratory surveys of the seamount chain looking to investigate a puzzling split in the seamount trail.