The Okeanos Explorer's primary objective here is to map and document the communites which form the habitat and primary fauna of this region. And so, a majority of their time goes towards studying the many, MANY deep-sea sponges and corals which make up these habitats.
The main page for the NOAA Hawaiian Expedition can be found here.
Their LIVE feed can be found here.
I've been tweeting the LIVE stream of the Okeanos' various discoveries and last week I documented the many, MANY different types of glass sponges seen by the Okeanos Explorer.
This week I thought I would just digest some of the various discoveries made which I thought warranted a place in today's post! Although most of the screengrabs here are mine, I am ETERNALLY grateful to the Facebook Underwater screengrab group!
1. Is this the world's LARGEST KNOWN SPONGE??? (Glass sponge or otherwise??)
Here was a pic of the ROV Deep Discoverer NEXT to the sponge. it was approximately 3.5 m long X 2.5 m tall, that's about 11 feet x 8 feet LONG!
SOMETIMES, the community is a little more permanent than others. Here's a shrimp which lives inside this "glass cage" sponge. This species mates and lives inside the sponge for the rest of its life...
This story, of the "Venus flower basket" which is a pretty obvious deep-sea invertebrate "love story" is seen in the genus Euplectella. One can find more accounts of this story all over, such as here.