Biodiversity Bonanza in Deep Sea Coral Gardens

It’s a biodiversity bonanza on this impressive deep-sea coral garden! Spot sponges, cup corals, squat lobsters of different colors, and thick zoanthid growth as ROV Hercules explores an unnamed seamount over 2,600 meters deep in the waters of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Watch as our ROVs light up these picturesque views of various coral and sponge species covered in basket stars, anemones, and more. 

Next, stop at another coral garden, this one at 1,193 meters deep, and check out a landscape of bright yellow coral as far as the eye can see. Enjoy shots of purple corals covered in basket stars and thick, healthy sponges dotting the rocky landscape. Perhaps most exciting is the possible evidence of range expansion for the Solenosmilia variabilis colonial coral, a coral that is known for creating large reefs as habitat. 

Our Ala ʻAumoana Kai Uli (NA154) expedition exploring the monument focuses on the largely unexplored northwestern section of the Monument, gathering data urgently needed to address local management and science needs of PMNM. As E/V Nautilus voyages to the sacred islands of Kānaka ʻŌiwi (Native Hawaiians), we gratefully acknowledge past generations of Kānaka ʻŌiwi and today’s stewards of these waters and honor ʻŌiwi knowledge systems. 

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