Uncharted Waters

NOAA’s latest expedition into the deep finds lots of little, mysterious creatures off Puerto Rico.

May 11, 2015

Photo: NOAA Okeanos Explorer ProgramA hydromedusa seen at 3,900 meters

When humanity needs to feel humble, it should remember that 95 percent of the ocean remains unexplored. Ninety-five! But that doesn’t mean those areas are safe, and because learning about something is the first step toward protecting it, NOAA’s ship Okeanos Explorer embarked on a journey around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands last month. A diverse mix of seamounts, trenches, and troughs lies beneath the waves there, so the researchers suspected they’d encounter plenty of interesting marine life.

They were right. Many of the observations made during the ship's journey were of creatures that are unknown to (or poorly understood by) science. Enjoy the stunning images! (There's even more where they came from.) 

Photo: NOAA Okeanos Explorer ProgramA squat lobster sits atop an unknown chrysogorgiid octocoral.

Photo: NOAA Okeanos Explorer ProgramNOAA scientists were initially unable to identify this "sunburst" creature but now believe it is a type of foraminifera.

Photo: NOAA Okeanos Explorer ProgramA brittle star climbs atop an armored sea robin.

Photo: NOAA Okeanos Explorer ProgramA coronate jellyfish

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