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A psychedelic jellyfish and the remains of an underwater earthquake of 1918 are among the many discoveries of a 22-day expedition around Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands . which ends today (November 20, 2018), led by a group of experts and scientists from the National Office of Oceans and Atmosphere (NOAA, in English) to study its depths. According to details released by NOAA’s Exploration and Research Office, the Deep Ocean expedition 2018 found the jellyfish on November 8 while exploring a mountain ridge in the La Parguera area of Lajas, a municipality on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico. This specimen, of the genus Crossota and called “psychedelic” by scientists, has short and long tentacles around the central part, a kind of bell or semitransparent dome with a pinkish interior.
In a statement, NOAA explained that the deep waters of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands contain a great diversity of coral and deep-sea fish habitats, submarine canyons, seamounts, trenches, unique geological features and other little-known habitats. Other discoveries, never observed before, are the images of a living embryo of a cat shark moving inside an egg capsule, a squat lobster and various types of starfish and sea urchins, including a “pancake” type, and crinoids.
Also, the explorers captured images aboard the Okeanos Explorer and using the last generation vehicle operated by remote control (ROV, in English) -capable of submerging at depths of 6,000 meters- of a scorpion fish, sea lilies, anemones of the sea, a tripod fish and even a sea cucumber. NOAA started the expedition on October 30, leaving from the port of San Juan, moving through the northeast of the island, passing the Virgin Passage until reaching the southeast coast of the island-municipality of Vieques, where they submerged to 1 312 feet (400 meters) to locate fish, such as “chillos” (snappers), and corals. The following day, the ROV submerged to more than 900 feet (275 meters) and during two hours it explored the zone and sighted diverse types of snappers, dark corals, crinoideos and gastropods, that is a class of aquatic mollusk.
The agency continued its expedition east of Vieques and south of the island of Saint Thomas, submerging the ROV between 1 520 and 2 530 feet (460-772 meters), in order to locate deep-sea fish and marine life, thus finding 16 types of fish species, as well as corals, sponges and invertebrates. The experts took advantage of the expedition and collected three types of biological specimens for future research. Then, the scientists moved to the deep waters of the Inés Mendoza Natural Reserve in Yabucoa, a municipality in the southeast of the island, where at some 2 085 and 2 875 feet deep (636-877 meters) they spotted several sharks, among them, a quelvacho, combs and cat. One of the most anticipated expeditions was the tenth day, during which during a ten-hour dive in the Mona Canyon, they first explored a part in which they found a landslide between 8,320 and 9,075 feet deep (2 536-2 766 meters), believed to have occurred by a large earthquake in 1918. The second part of the expedition consisted of traversing the deep waters transversely from 985 to 6,560 feet (300 and 2,000 meters) in order to explore the oceanic fauna of the area.
Meanwhile, on expeditions 11 and 12, north of the municipality of Vega Baja and on the eastern wall of the Mona Canyon, respectively, the experts located at least three types of starfish, including one known as abyssal, of which only twelve are found in the world. The experts highlighted that the immersion in the eastern part of the canyon had never been explored with any type of vehicle. In the fifteenth dive, held west of the island of Desecheo, northwest of Puerto Rico, where experts from NOAA and 820 feet (250 meters) deep found the embryo of what appeared to be a cat shark. The dive on Monday was the deepest of the expedition, and possibly one of the ones that reached the bottom of this part of the world, at 5 000 meters from the submarine mountain of Mona Island, a territory west of Puerto Rico.
Source: El Comercio