Day 14: Charismatic macrofauna

In our search for Zetaproteobacteria, we sometimes come across larger, more conventionally photogenic creatures, dubbed “charismatic macrofauna.” Although our main goal is Zetas, these multicellular organisms provide for interesting discussion and entertainment during our Jason dives. Many fish and small invertebrates swim quickly by Jason’s cameras, so capturing one on film can sometimes be quite a challenge. If the scientists can’t quite capture the macrofauna with the High Definition cameras, Jason is equipped with cameras that take photos every minute. With careful note taking and patience, we can look back through this log to find these strange life forms. Here are some of the better shots we’ve gotten over the past few days.

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Here we see the tadpole-like fish mentioned in a previous post, with another fish that appears to be standing on the seafloor. These two fishes were found at FeMO Deep (4980m depth).



This flower-like organism is known as the stalked crinoid. Here it perches on pillow basalts at FeMO Deep, feeding on passing particles in the water column. Stalked crinoids have been seen moving from place to place by using their petals to pull their body across the seafloor.



At approximately 5000m deep, this sea anemone is living under high pressure; perhaps that is why it appears so angry.


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Swimming along the seafloor at FeMO Deep is what appears to be a lobster. Unlike Lō’ihi, FeMO Deep is very flat. In this type of landscape it is very easy to spot movement in the distance.



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Back near the summit of Lō’ihi, we see small shrimp. Bresiliid shrimp (Opaepele loihi) are endemic to Lō’ihi Seamount and appear to feed on the microbial mats. These shrimp have been observed walking over baitfish but it wasn’t obvious that any were consumed (Vetter, 2005).


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The shrimp are not without predators—here’s one being chomped by an eel.



A rare sighting, two fish in one shot! Here you can see the large anglerfish and a small, sleek eel-like fish. The anglerfish has a fleshy protrusion above her mouth, which is used to attract prey. We’ve nicked named this beauty ‘Angelina’ for her large pouty lips. The smaller fish in this photo has been dubbed the ‘screeching eel’ since it is often seen with its mouth wide open, perhaps screeching at the light.



Another rare sighting at Lō’ihi, the rattail. However, these fishes are some of the most abundant in the benthos.



Shark! While Jason is exchanging samples on the elevator, a curious sixgill shark comes looking for its next meal. This species has been recorded at depths up to 1875 meters; so seeing one at 1300m isn’t a big surprise, except to the science crew!


Not much is known about the macrofauna of Lō’ihi and FeMO Deep, but us Zetahunters have become amateur zoologists during this research cruise.

–Heather Fullerton, Western Washington University

Photo credits: all photos from the Jason control van


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