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Scientists Explore Cook Seamount in Hawaii

A fascinating collection of marine species found 100 miles southwest of the Big Island.
September 23, 2016

Scientists Explore Cook Seamount in Hawaii

Intrepid explorers from the University of Hawaii and the nonprofit group Conservation International have recently been to Cook seamount, a previously unexplored extinct volcano located at a depth of 3,000 feet about 100 miles southwest of the Big Island. They found many fascinating creatures, including one coral in particular that the scientists believe could be a new species.

Clinging to the seamount's cliffs, the mysterious coral boasts a rich violet color, which prompted the scientists to give it the nickname "Purple Haze."  They also spotted what appeared to be two Dumbo octopuses, one of which changed color from white to pink and finally reddish brown as it passed the submersible. These were the most exciting sightings, but there were also starfish, crabs, eels, shrimp, sharks, and chimaera, also known as "ghost sharks."

Seamounts are particularly interesting to scientists because they are created by active or dormant volcanoes, which tend to generate nutrients that well up into the waters above. This fosters dynamic deep sea ecosystems full of weird and fascinating creatures. Although seamounts are believed to cover around 18 million square miles of the planet, they remain largely unexplored, which is why Conservation International aims to study 50 of them in the next five years.

The 80 million-year-old Cook seamount rises 13,000 feet from the ocean floor, but that still leaves it 3,000 feet from the ocean's surface where no sunlight can penetrate. Only the submersibles provided light, so the scientists could observe the marine life at such a depth, that and the occasional bioluminescent creature that drifted by.

Hawaii is a hotspot for biodiversity, and access to deep ocean submersibles have facilitated a growing parade of discoveries. But if you'd like to observe Hawaii's stunning array of sea creatures, you don't have to plunge into the deep ocean to find them. Both our Molokini Snorkel Tour and Lanai Snorkel Tour will whisk you off to some of the most fantastic reefs in reach from Maui. We look forward to helping you discover these remarkable ecosystems. If you need our assistance, you'll find our contact information at the bottom of the page. Mahalo!

Blogs for September 2016

Grey Reef Shark Pups Born at Maui Ocean Center

Posted on September 30, 2016
Grey Reef Shark Pups Born at Maui Ocean Center


Photo Courtesy of Maui Ocean Project: mauioceancenter.com

If you love marine life, you may be excited to hear that three grey reef shark pups were very recently born at the Maui Ocean Center in the 750,000 gallon Open Ocean exhibit.… Continue Reading

Scientists Explore Cook Seamount in Hawaii

Posted on September 23, 2016
Scientists Explore Cook Seamount in Hawaii

Intrepid explorers from the University of Hawaii and the nonprofit group Conservation International have recently been to Cook seamount, a previously unexplored extinct volcano located at a depth of 3,000 feet about 100 miles southwest of the Big Island. They found many fascinating… Continue Reading

9 Humpback Whale Populations Removed From Endangered Species List

Posted on September 16, 2016
9 Humpback Whale Populations Removed From Endangered Species List

Nine of fourteen humpback whale populations have been removed from the endangered species list, according to a recent report from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This triumph is being celebrated by conservationists and nature lovers the world over,… Continue Reading

New Hawaiian Fish Species Discovered

Posted on September 09, 2016
New Hawaiian Fish Species Discovered

A beautiful new Hawaiian fish was recently discovered within the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, and it has been named Tosanoides Obama Pyle. The fish was named after the president in gratitude for his decision to expand the monument, which we discussed last week. Also,… Continue Reading

Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument Expanded

Posted on September 02, 2016
Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument Expanded

The Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the uninhabited northwestern Hawaiian islands has just been expanded by President Obama, according to an announcement from the White House. The monument was neither doubled, nor tripled, but quadrupled from 139,797 square miles to 582,578 square miles, which… Continue Reading

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