Incredible Calyptrophora Coral Colony

Various shades of yellow, white, and pink swirl in this stunning coral garden, witnessed on an unnamed guyot northwest of Kingman Reef at around 1,200m deep. Spot the over 1-meter wide white Calyptrophora sp. surrounded by small yellow paramuriceid colonies, capped by many armed basket stars, tangled up with other associates like feather stars and brittle stars. Deep-sea corals like this massive fan offer food, places to hide from predators, nurseries for juveniles, and a solid vertical surface where other invertebrates can take hold. This rocky outcropping is prime real estate for flow feeders as the coral garden sits perpendicular to the heavy current, visible in the waving coral branches as planktonic particles drift by. 

NA149 expedition brings us back to the waters in and around the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Further explorations of these areas are urgently needed to address the management and science needs of the region as a monument management plan is under development and a national marine sanctuary has been proposed encompassing this site. Exploration goals are to gather data to better understand the deep-water natural and cultural resources here, biogeographic patterns of species distributions, and the geological context of the region.

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