See-Through Purple Sea Cucumber Wiggles Into Our Hearts
Spotted on an unnamed guyot 150 mile NW from Kingman Reef during NA149, this sea cucumber is from the genus Enypniastes and the Pelagothuriidae family - a group of deep sea swimming sea cucumbers. Filmed almost 2,000m deep (6496 feet or 1082 fathoms) in the Central Pacific Ocean, this translucent invertebrate allowed us a glimpse into its insides with a full digestive track.
Enypniastes sp. feed mostly on seafloor sediment pulling food into their mouths with their tentacles and recycling carbon. Their unique swimming stroke with the webbed veil helps lift them away from predators and into the currents to find new food patches. What a beautiful example of ocean life from the Pacific Remote Islands region!
U.S. waters surrounding Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll are home to some of the most pristine marine ecosystems on Earth, and in the spring of 2023, the region was recently proposed to become a national marine sanctuary. The atolls, shoals, seamounts, banks, and reefs surrounding the U.S. Pacific Remote Islands are home to some of the most diverse and remarkable tropical marine ecosystems on the planet but are becoming increasingly vulnerable to impacts from climate change, invasive species, and marine debris.
Our first live expedition of 2023 brings us back to the region of Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll as part of our ongoing effort to explore the deep ocean in and around the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM) through the Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute.