Cliffside Coral Garden In Proposed National Marine Sanctuary

Our Corps of Exploration came across this cliffside coral garden flying ROV Hercules along the slopes of an unnamed guyot 150 miles northwest of Kingman Reef, around 1,200m deep. These deep-water creatures situate themselves in the best position to take advantage of currents swirling along the side of underwater seamounts and upwelling drifting food their way. Feeding with the tiny nematocyst stinging cells in each polyp, corals capture planktonic particles by filtering seawater through their bodies. Purple plexaurid corals, Acanthorgorgia corals, Farreid sponges, ride-along crinoids, and parasitic zooanthids all call this prime location on the side of a guyot home. 

The NA149 expedition brings the Ocean Exploration Trust team back to the waters in and around the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument for the third year to study these pristine marine ecosystems. Through two previous Nautilus expeditions, we’ve been working to increase global baseline knowledge of the deep-water habitats and seafloor formations of this remote region larger than the state of New Mexico. This expedition focuses north of the monument to expand knowledge on the marine and cultural resources of the region, including patterns of species distributions and geological history. 

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