Spiral Iridigorgia Coral Taller Than ROV Hercules

Spotted on an unnamed guyot northwest of Kingman Reef at around 1,200m deep, this Iridigorgia magnaspiralis coral was pushing 3 meters tall. Towering above its seafloor neighbors this colony lifts its polyp whirls into currents slowed down closer to the seafloor by friction with the rocks. With a few branches colonized by benthic ctenophores (aka comb jellies) and providing a perch for a squat lobster, this massive coral provides an essential home and foundation for plankton predators. Check out these beautiful views from ROV Hercules and ROV Atalanta, showing us this massive underwater micro-ecosystem. Wow-moments like this remind us of all the beauty yet to be discovered under the waves.

During our NA149 expedition exploring the seafloor in and around the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM) near Kingman Reef, some of the most pristine marine ecosystems on Earth. While recent expeditions have increased our baseline knowledge of the deep-water resources, large areas of US waters in the region remain completely unexplored, particularly areas north of the Kingman/Palmyra Unit of PRIMNM.

Learn more about this expedition is funded by NOAA Ocean Exploration via the Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute