Gallery: Exploring the Gulf of Mexico

Okeanos Explorer Expedition

The Okeanos Explorer preparing for a research mission in the Gulf of Mexico.

(Image credit: Image courtesy of the NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.)

The NOAA research vessel Okeanos Explorer explored unknown areas in the Gulf of Mexico in March and April of 2012. Here, Bobby Mohr, Tom Kok, and Jeff Williams discuss plans on the back deck of the ship.

Mussels and Bubbles

A bed of mussels with methane bubbles.

(Image credit: Image courtesy of the NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.)

Researchers explored the seafloor of the Gulf with a remotely operated vehicle, capturing images such as these methane bubbles rising up through a bed of mussels.

Salty Seafloor

Salt domes at the Gulf of Mexico.

(Image credit: Image courtesy of Lophelia II 2010 Expedition, NOAA-OER/BOEM. )

At diapirs or salt domes, sometimes the salt itself actually reaches the seafloor where it dissolves, occasionally filling lows in the seafloor with super-saturated, very dense salty waters known as brines.

Copper-Plated Shipwreck

A shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico.

(Image credit: Image courtesy of the NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.)

The remains of a ship, perhaps dating back to the early 1800s, found in the Gulf of Mexico by NOAA's Okeanos Explorer.

Gulf Coral

Deep-sea corals and brittle stars in the Gulf.

(Image credit: Image courtesy of Lophelia II 2010 Expedition, NOAA-OER/BOEM. )

Deep-sea corals flourish in the dark depths of the Gulf of Mexico, providing foundations that attract lush communities of other animals, including brittle stars, anemones, crabs, and fish.

"Pregnant" Coral

Coral with developing embryos.

(Image credit: Image courtesy of the NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.)

This coral may be expecting! The white dots in the translucent body may be developing embryos that will later form their own coral organisms.

The Lobster and the Crinoid

A lobster and a crinoid in the Gulf of Mexico.

(Image credit: Image courtesy of the NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.)

A squat lobster (right) sitting next to a crinoid (left). Despite their plant-like appearance, crinoids are animals capable of pulling up roots and "walking" along the seafloor.

Red Fish

A red deep-sea fish in the Gulf of Mexico

(Image credit: Image courtesy of the NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.)

One fish, two fish, red fish ... okay, no blue fish here, but the Okeanos Explorer's ROV turned up gorgeous images of deep-sea fish.

Shipwreck

A Gulf of Mexico shipwreck

(Image credit: Image courtesy of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.)

One of the four shipwrecks explored during the Okeanos Explorer mission. This is a ship's steering geer under 7,000 feet of water.

Lost U-Boat

U-166 the wreck of a Germain U-boat in the Gulf of Mexico

(Image credit: Image courtesy of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.)

U-166, the only German submarine lost in the Gulf of Mexico. The wreck of U-166 was first found in 2001.

Black Coral

A coral colony in the Gulf of Mexico.

(Image credit: Image courtesy of the NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.)

A Leiopathes black coral colony at 425 meters depth on the West Florida escarpment in the Gulf of Mexico.