National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Robert Ballard, Emerging Explorer Katy Croff Bell, and the rest of the crew and visitors aboard the ship of exploration Nautilus are once again patrolling the seas in search of whatever wonders the deep will reveal.
This summer they are in the Caribbean region, examining shipwrecks, investigating topographical anomalies and, to the delight of anyone with a soft spot for animals, observing some of the strangest, cutest, and most awe-inspiring creatures in the sea. You can watch the live feed from the ship and ROVs daily at nautiluslive.org. Below, enjoy some of the best sights from the current expedition so far.
Animal Highlights Summer 2014
Still your beating hearts, you remnant “Twilight” fans. The vampire squid may lack sparkles on his chest, but man can he dance.
Or perhaps you go more for the so-cute-your-eyes-bleed kind of critters. If that’s the case, you’ll soon be thinking kittens look like Godzilla’s boorish cousins in contrast to the squishy little shy guy known as the bobtail squid (though he’s actually more closely related to cuttlefish).
The best thing about these sightings is that as cute as they are, they are also of real scientific interest. The large size, unusual movements, and other physical features made this dumbo octopus of particular interest to the biologists on board.
Finally, lest you think the deep sea is filled with nothing but adorable hipster t-shirt characters come to life, behold this bizarre siphonophone—a relative of the Portuguese man-of-war with mind-bending qualities of being both a single individual and a colony of many individual animals.