About the Expedition

On January 21, 2010, scientists from the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division of the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (CRED/PIFSC), along with visiting scientists from the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego State University, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and local agencies in American Samoa, departed on a three month expedition to Johnston Atoll, Howland and Baker Islands, American Samoa, Jarvis Island, Palmyra Atoll, and Kingman Reef aboard the NOAA Ship Hi'ialakai. This is the fifth biennial Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (Pacific RAMP) expedition to American Samoa and the seventh to the Pacific Remote Island Areas. The expedition is sponsored by NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) and is divided into three segment sequentially led by Chief Scientists Benjamin Richards, Rusty Brainard and Jamison Gove.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

More cool critter sightings

We are currently at the dock in Pago Pago Harbor, waiting for deliveries so that we can continue our work eastward to Ofu / Olosega and Ta'u. Until we are able to leave dock, these are a few more photos of critters that we see while on the reef. All of these pictures were taken in a reef environment between 10 and 20 meters (30 and 60 feet). Enjoy!

Gomophia sp., a type of Sea Star
(Photograph by Molly Timmers)
Crinoid (Photograph by Erin Looney)
Dardanus sp., a type of Hemit Crab
(Photograph by Molly Timmers)
Gymnothorax sp.,  a species of Moray Eel
(Photograph by Erin Looney)
Octopus sp. (Photograph by Molly Timmers)


  1. Hi Molly! I notice that the sea star had little spikes on it. Were the spikes rounded or could they hurt people? Are there different colors on the bottom, or is it all black and white? The pictures look interesting. The octopus is adorable and it has little bumps, are those suction cups?
    Seychelle, age 6.

  2. Hi Seychelle,

    Interesting that you thought of spikes on the sea star because chocolate chips come to my mind when I see this critter. Although they are somewhat pointed at the tips, the spikes are not sharp and do not hurt people. However, they are tough and rigid. I've attached a photo of the bottom. As you can see, the colors are not too different and the spikes are not there. Why do you think the bottom doesn't have any spikes?

    The bumps that line the Octopus' arms are suckers and function like suction cups. Why do you think they have these on their arms?