May

3

Taken by by NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer. Click for more info...

From the NOAA:
“Thank you for exploring with us as the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer looks for submerged cultural resources near areas that the scientific community as identified as important to explore in order to understand more about our little known ocean world. It is wonderful that your students are so very observant and have asked an important question about something they saw during yesterday’s dive. We have reviewed the footage and captured the image of what we think they were referring to and I have attached it here. If this image is, in fact, what they were referring to, as best we can tell it may be the fecal cast from a bottom dweller, and based on some comparisons I have been able to do with other observations of this kind on the deep sea floor, it appears to most resemble that of a sea cucumber (Phylum Echinodermata, Class Holothuroidea). We have seen sea cucumbers during the ROV dives during this mission.

Most sea cucumbers live on the bottom of the ocean floor, however, some are pelagic and can swim up off the ocean floor for periods of time. See http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/okeanos/explorations/10index/logs/dailyupdates/media/movies/0727_sea_cucumber_video.html for a beautiful example of a sea cucumber we imaged off the coast of Indonesia two summers ago. Echinoderms are beautiful animals and come in an amazing variety of forms (or morphologies) and all have one thing in common – they all display radial symmetry. Sea stars, sea urchins, sand dollars, and sea cucumbers are all found in this group of animals. This is a great research project for your students to follow up on. Hope this helps and have fun learning to explore more about our ocean and the wonderful wealth of life that abounds there. “


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