Mysterious Purple Orb
During our initial observations in NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, a snail-like foot and no visible shell suggested the sphere might be a pleurobranch sea slug. Upon more well-rounded review by our research partners at Harvard University Museum of Comparative Zoology, it is now thought the orb belongs to another distantly related group of snails--the velutinids. Modern techniques, including microCT scanning and RNA sequencing, are being used to describe this very likely new species of velutinid.
In late summer, E/V Nautilus will be offshore Los Angeles to explore some of the most tectonically active (as well as densely populated) areas offshore California. The team will investigate the Southern California Margin, a broad area that fits entirely within the US Exclusive Economic Zone but that still remains largely unexplored. The margin is a heavily trafficked area and has been investigated for over 50 years, by the academic community, federal agencies, military, and petroleum and fisheries industries.