Pic ‘o the week – yellownose gobies & brain coral

A healthy coral reef can be one of the most colorful places on earth: here, a pair of curious yellownose gobies gaze out from their refuge of richly textured bolder brain coral.

Todd Mintz snapped this stunning photo in of yellownose gobies, Elacatinus randalli, and bolder brain coral in Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean.

This pic won First Place, Macro in the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science’s annual amateur underwater photography contest. Check out the other winners here – and get your underwater photog vibe on — there’s plenty of time to grab some award-winning ocean pics for next year.

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Pic ‘o the week – Elphinstone Reef, Red Sea, Egypt

by alphonso gonzalez

A classic and lovely view of a vibrant coral reef in the Red Sea – to remind us of the dynamic and colorful underwater worlds of the Middle East, and to remind us to support the divers, dive operators and conservationists of the Middle East during these breathtaking and tumultuous days of revolution.

Photo by Alfonso Gonzalez
under Creative Commons

The Gulf’s deepwater corals

The New York Times has an excellent article today discussing state of science and research about deepwater corals in the Gulf of Mexico.

As we’ve blogged, the site of the BP oil disaster has been explored and mapped to some degree by NOAA – some of it funded by the Minerals Management Service.

During last fall’s deepwater expedition in the area, researchers were energized by the forests of deepwater Lophelia they found – it’s a type of coral that can be a vital foundation species to the health of the oceans. But much remains (remained?) to be discovered at depth there.

“We know 1 percent of what’s out there in deep waters — perhaps 1 percent,” said Dr. Billy Causey of NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries.

Lophelia pertusa, black coral (right), anemones, and squat lobster, Gulf of Mexico.
Image courtesy of Ian MacDonald, Lophelia II 2009 expedition.

life in the Gulf’s Mississippi Canyon

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon’s well is spewing 5,000 gallons of oil a day into the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico’s Mississippi Canyon. Engineers try to build a dome over the gusher, while others work on digging a “relief” well nearby in a bid to stop the flow.

Today we revisit some of the sealife that NOAA and the US Minerals Management Service have documented so far in the their four-year series of deep sea explorations in the Gulf.


Above, an example of the Mississippi Canyon 751 site (near Deepwater Horizon well) where coral and cold seep habitats intersect. On the left is the gorgonian coral Callogorgia americana. On the right is the seep tubeworm. From Lophelia II expedition, 2009.



Lophelia pertusa coral from the Mississippi Canyon 751 site at approximately 450 m depth. From Lophelia II expedition, 2009.



Tubeworms living on the same piece of carbonate rock as large colonies of the gorgonian Callogorgia Americana americana. Note the brittle stars and a galatheid crab crawling on the gorgonians. Photo by Derk Bergquist.


Iceworms (Hesiocaeca methanicola) infest a solid piece of orange methane ice at 540 m depth in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo by Ian MacDonald. Both above photos from Expedition to the Deep Slope, 2006.


 

Photos courtesy NOAA Office of Ocean Research and Exploration