HONOLULU (KHON2) — Last month, a team of scientists, engineers, educators and students went on a three-week expedition within Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument where they made a thrilling discovery in a remote spot west of Hawaii.
At nearly 3,000 meters on a never-before-surveyed seamount north of Johnston Atoll, they spotted an animal for the first time in the Pacific Ocean — a solumbellula sea pen.
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Using remotely operated vehicles, video shows the sea creature with a single large feeding polyp with stinging tentacles stretching over 40 centimeters from its 2-meter-long stalk.
Solumbellula monocephalus is the only described species in the genus known to live in the North and South Atlantic and Indian Oceans — that was, until this sighting. This animal had never been seen in the Pacific Ocean before this discovery, according to Ocean Exploration Trust.
Scientists will need to review more footage to determine whether this is the first Pacific S.monocephalus or potentially a new species in this ocean basin.
This discovery was made during a mission to dive on never-before-explored seamounts where the team surveyed for biodiversity and collected geological samples.
These seamounts are estimated to be 70 million to 100 million years old.
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The expedition was funded by NOAA Ocean Exploration via the Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute.