Completed on July 10th, leg three of the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer‘s EX1605 expedition was chock-full of discoveries. The Okeanos‘s remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) conducted 22 dives, exploring many recently-mapped sites in the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument (MTMNM). They ventured where no ROVs have dove before.
Ship-based sonar mapping, along with ROV imaging and rock sampling, revealed new hydrothermal vent sites, deep-water coral reefs, the first petit-spot volcano found in US waters, and a new mud volcano in the MTMNM.
Amid the geological findings, biologists cataloged many new species. The pictures and videos below highlight some of the newly-discovered inner-space aliens (strange alien-looking creatures) from leg three of the Okeanos Explorer‘s EX1605 expedition.
This cusk eel, found at Unnamed Forearc on June 28th, 2016, was among the first new species discovered during this leg of the expedition.
This ghost-like fish, dubbed “Casper” by land-based scientists, is a species in the fish family Aphonoidae. Until June 30th, 2016, when the ROVs came across Casper, no fish in this family have ever been seen alive.
After a long geology-based dive, the ROVs came upon this undescribed species of Pachycara, commonly called eelpout.
The scientists wished they had enough time to collect this new species of hard sponge that they discovered on July 6, 2016.
But, they were able to collect this new species of stalked glass sponge!
For more ocean exploration and discoveries be sure to check out the Nautilus Live website for updates from the E/V Nautilus! Situated of the California coast, the Nautilus is currently (pun intended) mapping and conducting dives off the Channel Islands.
The Okeanos won’t be diving again until June 27th, 2016. Until then, check out dive highlights on our YouTube channel, and the NOAA Ocean Explorer YouTube channel! For more details about individual dives from the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer visit the NOAA Okeanos Explorer website.
Images and videos courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas.