The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been busy exploring the deep oceans which surround the United States for 20 years now. For years their expeditions have been providing more valuable information which help them fill in the gaps about what we know when it comes to life in the deep sea.
In one of their recent expedition which took place just off the coast of New England, the team uncovered a possible new species of jellyfish. This only proves how valuable the NOAA’s expeditions are to finding more answers regarding the unknown in the deep sea.
About 100 miles southeast of Nantucket, the Hydrographer Canyon is rich in ocean life as it is the connection between shallow waters and the deep parts of the ocean. The Hydrographer Canyon reaches depths that range from 1,900 feet at the shallow end up to 4,668 feet at the shelf break.
During the 2021 North Atlantic Stepping Stones: New England and Corner Rise Seamounts expedition the NOAA chose this location. The NOAA researchers were able to map the ocean floor with the use of remotely operated vehicles (ROV), and was able to observe everything from deep-sea coral to ecosystems living in unexplored areas.
During this expedition the researchers made an incredible find and came across a red jellyfish from the Poralia genus, but what makes this discovery even more incredible is that the NOAA statesd that it may be an undescribed species which means that it was never given a scientific name and is unknown to scientists.
The researchers discovered the red jellyfish swimming at a depth of 2,297 feet and the resulting photograph captures its spectacular red bell opening as it floats around.
During the Dive 20 of the 2021 North Atlantic Stepping Stones expedition a total of four samples were collected by using the suction sample on remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Deep Discoverer.
The lucky intern Quinn L. Girasek was in charged with observing and annotating the discoveries that the ROV brought to light. This included noting the specimens that the Deep Discoverer ROV sucked into one of its five collection jars for close examination later on. “I also took notes of potentially new and/or undescribed species. That was definitely a highlight and I can’t wait until we learn more about those organisms! If you go into SeaTube and filter by the words ‘collect' and ‘new' then you’ll be able to go directly to the portions of the videos where we saw those organisms. Besides the viperfish, two of my favorites from this dive are the ctenophore, genus Vampyroctena, and the cnidaria, genus Solmissus.”
It’s fascinating to imagine that there are still a lot in the deep ocean that has yet to be discovered. During the expedition several other amazing sea life were photographed in the deep ocean.
A viperfish was imaged during the 700-meter transect to explore the water column above Hydrographer Canyon during Dive 20 of the 2021 North Atlantic Stepping Stones expedition.
Another amazing image was taken of a larvacean house that was seen during the 1200-meter water column transect of Dive 20 of the 2021 North Atlantic Stepping Stones expedition.
Larvaceans are solitary, free-swimming tunicates that produce a fragile mucus “house” to help filter small particles from the water. A diffuse outer filter catches larger particles that would be too big to fit in the larvacean’s mouth and protects an inner filter, which is used to strain food particles from the water.
A spiraled Iridiogorgia fontanalis coral was also seen next to an Acanella arbuscula bamboo coral near the upper summit of a carbonate platform on Yakatut Seamount, which is the second time this species of Iridiogorgia has ever been observed.