Rare glass octopus captured on film for the first time
The crew of the Schmidt Ocean Institute research vessel Falkor spotted the see-through cephalopod on a 34-day trip to map more than 30,000 square kilometers of ocean floor around the Phoenix Islands Archipelago.
They captured live footage of creature whose only visible features are its eyeballs, optic nerve and digestive tract.
And they filmed a rare whale shark — an ancient deep-water species that can grow up to 40 feet long — using an underwater robot.
The team performed a major coral survey as part of their voyage to find learn more about how corals respond to grazing scars and wounding.
Through onboard experiments, they also gathered the largest deep-water microbial culture collection from the Central Pacific ocean.
As well as teaching us more about the deep sea environment, the scientists say their survey may provide insights that could benefit research into cancer immunotherapies, drug delivery and improved vaccine efficacy.
Woods HoIe Oceanographic Institution biologist Dr Tim Shank said: ‘The coverage of this expedition was remarkable — we found changes in species across depth and geography around the Pacific equator and in the suite of organisms living on corals.
‘Looking into these deep-sea communities has altered the way we think about how organisms live and interact on seamounts and how they maintain diversity of life in the deep ocean.’
Expedition chief scientist Dr Randi Rotjan of Boston University added: ‘It has been very inspiring to help document the biodiversity of unexplored seamounts on the high seas and in U.S. waters.
‘We’re at the beginning of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, so now is the time to think about conservation broadly across all oceanscapes, and the maps, footage, and data we have collected will hopefully help to inform policy and management in decision making around new high seas protected areas.’