We have been experiencing multiple thermoclines on each dive, resulting in about a 20 degree difference between the bottom (200-280′) and the surface – 84 degrees at the surface and low 60’s at the bottom. Possibly because of this cool water at depth, we have seen a few fish that I never thought we would see outside of a submersible.
Randy Kosaki first noticed an unusual Chromis at Midway in around 200′, and Brian Hauk was able to get a photo. The next day at Pearl and Hermes, Rich Pyle and Jason Leonard saw the fish again, and confirmed the identity as Chromis stuhsakeri, previously recorded from deeper water. Rich collected an adult and some video images. They also saw and recorded Bodianus bathycapros – possibly the first divers to dive with this fish, that is usually caught by fisherman below 100m.
Yesterday, we were down a bit deeper at 280′ and saw quite a few of the rare damselfish myself, and recorded them. We also are seeing the undescribed, but known butterflyfish Prognathodes “basabei” (long time in press by Rich), Genicanthus personatus, Bodianus sanguineus, Liopropoma aurora as the more unusual. More common in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, but rare in the Main Hawaiian Islands are the Morowong Goniistius vittatus, Apolemichthys arcuatus (Bandit Angelfish), the boarfish Evistias acutirostris and thousands of Thompson’s Anthias (Pseudanthias thompsoni)
One of the stranger organisms I encountered yesterday was this 4″ blob. On the ship we couldn’t identify it to Phylum. With help from Marine Invertebrate experts, the little animal is an anemone in the Genus Alicia – provisionally “mirabilis”