Paul H. Yancey, Whitman College
Updated Oct. 2009!

Return to my MAIN DEEP-SEA PAGE for details on animal collection and for TOPIC CONTENTS (or use pull-down menu, below right).
If you copy and use photos, please WRITE for PERMISSION first at email just below. Some of these photos are mine, others are ones I took from the ROV Oceanic Explorer's camera monitor.

If you can help us identify species with a *, please contact me at the email just above.
Note: many of the specimens have been deposited at the Field Museum in Chicago and loans of the material can be arranged through Janet Voight ( or John Slapcinsky (


Benthic Cnidaria (or Coelenterata) and Porifera
These are polyp animals in two large classes: hydras (hydrozoans), and anemones, corals and seapens (anthozoans); these are typically carnivores with tentacles having stinging cells (with nematocysts or capsules with barbed threads). (Note there are also planktonic cnidaria--cubozoans and scyphozoans or jellies--not shown here). Seapens (colonies of tiny polyps) sit vertically with a fleshy stalk in the mud;they often have a brittle star on them that is up in the current to catch detritus.
Porifera (sponges) typically filter-feed by drawing water in through small side pores, trapping food on collar cells, and exuding water out the large top opening.

A. CALIFORNIA/OREGON/WASHINGTON BATHYAL AND ABYSSAL: (a) = abyssal plain (2300-2850m), (b) = bathyal zone--continental slope (1800-2000m) off Newport, Oregon; (mb) = 2000-3000m in Monterey Bay Canyon; (jdr)=Juan de Fuca ridge off British Columbia, 2300m
anemone anemone2 anemone4anemone3 coral
Paractinostola faeculenta
anemone (b)*
unidentified (a)*
Anemone Actinauge
abyssorum (a,ob)
on wood, and on tubeworm
Paradiopatra sp
Octocoral Umbellula (a)
White anemone (a)
Coral2 (b)*
Coral (b)*
Unknown anemone from near Juan de Fuca Ridge (jdr; 2300m)
Unknown anemone from Monterey Bay Canyon (mb; 3000m)
RIGHT: Actinauge verrillii anemone (mb; 3000m)
RIGHT: Actinauge or hormathiid
anemone (mb; 3000m)
RIGHT: Stylatula gracile seawhip (mb; 200-1500m)
RIGHT: Silica sponge (a)
Hyalonema sp.

Those with "*" are ones we haven't identified at the species level. The "silica sponge" has long glass fiber-optic-like fibers for anchoring in the mud


B. CALIFORNIA/OREGON SUBTIDAL-- Calif. slope off Eureka (510-525m) and Hydrate Ridge (600m) off Newport, Oregon (Alvin and ROV video images)

Goiter sponge Heterochone calyx

with brittle stars
The deepsea mushroom coral Anthomastus ritteri (anthozoan colony, relative of corals, anemones, seapens; looks like toadstool when withdrawn)--lives 200-1500 m deep. Underwater photos are ROV and Alvin pictures; the 2nd photo I took off collected specimens; all are from Eel River Seeps off Eureka Calif, 510-520m. Righthand picture I took at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute; see the related aquarium website info page on this weird animal. See Seeps&Vents page for more submersible images
Unidentified anemones from Calif. (520m) and Oregon (600m) sites.
Amazing sponges (*; 70-1100m) seen while exploring new territory at 520m with ROV, 4/2001
Good reference books:
Deep-Sea Biology by J.D. Gage & P.A. Taylor, Cambridge University Press, 1992.
Abyss by C.P. Idyll, Crowell Co., 1971