Quick Peek at the Sea Dandelion

It’s time for another look at one of our favorite deep-sea organisms: the sea dandelion! This communal siphonophore - one of at least fifteen species in the family Rhodaliidae - was spotted by our Corps of Exploration while diving almost 1,700m (5,570 feet, 930 fathoms) deep on 'Seamount 5' a previously unexplored undersea mountain, north-northwest of Palmyra Atoll. 

Made up of thousands of tiny hydrozoan animals working together, sea dandelions rely on this communal, colonial relationship to survive. However, unlike ants in a colony, these clones have specialized to share organs, digestion, and propulsion with each zooid functioning for just one task. Look closely, and you can see the pneumatophores - gas-filled floats - which help keep the dandelion hovering above the seafloor, plus ruffled gastrozooids with long tentacles for feeding. What an exciting find for our first expedition of 2023, NA149, which brings us back to the region of Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll as part of our ongoing effort to explore the US waters' deep ocean in and around the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument through the Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute. 

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