The Beacon

Video: Exploring Vampire Squid, Corals, and Siphonophores in the Gulf of Mexico

A portuguese man-of-war (Physalia physalis), a relative of the the siphonophore spotted by the Nautilus Expedition team. (Photo: 4Neus / Flickr Creative Commons)

When you hear about marine life in the Gulf of Mexico, your first thoughts probably turn to sea turtles, shellfish, and brown pelicans. The Gulf is, of course, much richer in biodiversity than that short list, and home to other species like whale sharks and manatees. But, one research program is looking beyond these charismatic species of the Gulf, and recently captured unprecedented footage of marine life near some of the Gulf’s less-well-known habitat like caves and deep sea corals.

The Nautilus Live expedition, headed by Dr. Robert Ballard of the University of Rhode Island, is documenting seafloor habitat and marine life around the Gulf of Mexico and U.S. Caribbean waters over a five-month period. The E/V Nautilus recently completed an expedition to the Gulf of Mexico, studying the ecosystem-level response to oil and gas exploration, and captured some of the most elusive creatures of the seafloor from their remotely operated vehicle (ROV).

Take a look below to seem some of these extraordinary creatures, and if you want to watch live footage of their current expedition exploring life around shipwrecks, click here.

“Visit from a Vampire Squid”

“Stunning Siphonophore Sighting”

“Life among the Coral”

In August 2010, shortly after the BP oil spill, Oceana embarked on their own eight-week journey to the Gulf of Mexico to study ecosystems affected by the spill. Oceana used cutting-edge science to map the subsurface oil plume, and tagged several shark species to monitor their migration. To learn more about Oceana’s other expeditions to the Baltic Sea, Patagonia, and elsewhere, click here.


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