Nekton Mission 1: XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey, 2016-2018

Read a summary of impact achieved during the Mission across marine research, capacity development, ocean governance and public engagement.


1. Gress E, Andradi-Brown DA, Woodall L, Schofield PJ, Stanley K, Rogers AD. (2017) Lionfish (Pterois spp.) invade the upper-bathyal zone in the western Atlantic. PeerJ5:e3683

  • We report the first lionfish observations from the deep sea (>200 m) in Bermuda and Roatan, Honduras, with lionfish observed to a maximum depth of 304 m off the Bermuda platform, and 250 m off West End, Roatan.
  • Our results imply that lionfish may be present in the 200‒300 m depth range of the upper-bathyal zone across many locations in the western Atlantic, but currently are under-sampled compared to shallow habitats.
  • We highlight the need for considering deep-sea lionfish populations in future invasive lionfish management.

2. Wagner D, Shuler A, (2017) The black coral fauna (Cnidaria: Antipatharia) of Bermuda with new records, Zootaxa, 4344 (2): 367–379

  • Twenty eight black coral specimens were collected between 55‒304 m depth from Bermuda and examined based on overall morphology of colonies, polyps and skeletal spines.
  • The specimens belonged to seven species, four genera and three families: (1) Antipathes atlantica, (2) Antipathes furcata, (3) Stichopathes pourtalesi, (4) Stichopathes sp., (5) Distichopathes filix, (6) Tanacetipathes hirta, and (7) Tanacetipathes tanacetum.
  • Three species (Stichopathes sp., S. pourtalesi, and D. filix), one genus (Distichopathes) and one family (Aphanipathidae) are reported from Bermudan waters for the first time, thereby increasing the known black coral diversity of Bermuda to twelve species, five genera and four families.

3. Lucy C. Woodall, Dominic A. Andradi-Brown, Andrew S. Brierley, Malcolm R. Clark, Douglas Connelly, Rob A. Hall, Kerry L. Howell, Veerle A.I. Huvenne, Katrin Linse, Rebecca E. Ross, Paul Snelgrove, Paris V. Stefanoudis, Tracey T. Sutton, Michelle Taylor, Thomas F. Thornton, Alex D. Rogers (2018) A Multidisciplinary Approach for Generating Globally Consistent Data on Mesophotic, Deep-Pelagic, and Bathyal Biological Communities, Oceanography, 31 (3).

  • Understanding patterns of diversity in ocean life requires comparable biological data and information on the potential environment drivers.
  • Here, we present a formalised framework of 20 biological, chemical, physical and socio-economic parameters we considered the most important for marine biological research.
  • We term this scheme of work the ‘General Ocean Survey and Sampling Iterative Protocol (GOSSIP)’.
  • We hope this framework will help galvanise further collaboration between scientists, improve comparability of data sets and advance knowledge of the deeper ocean (deep sea and mesophotic coral ecosystems).

4. Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley, Justin Waletich (2018) Morphological plasticity of the depth generalist coral, Montastraea cavernosa, on mesophotic reefs in Bermuda, Ecology, 99 (7), 1688-1690.

  • We report depth-related plasticity in colony morphology of the common reef-building scleractinian coral Montastraea cavernosa.
  • Mesophotic corals have shorter septa and larger distance between neighbouring polyps than corals from shallow reefs.
  • Morphological variation could either be genetic-based or may indicate adaptation to low light conditions in mesophotic habitats.
  • Such morphological plasticity would enable this species to extend well into lower mesophotic depths (>60 m) as an extreme depth generalist and may also indicate a high capacity for adaptation.

5. Craig W. Schneider, Cristopher E. Lane, Gary W. Saunders (2018) A revision of the genus Cryptonemia (Halymeniaceae, Rhodophyta) in Bermuda, western Atlantic Ocean, including five new species and C. bermudensis (Collins & M. Howe) comb. nov., European Journal of Phycology, 53: 350-368

  • Specimens of the red algal genus Cryptonemia collected in Bermuda over the past two decades were analysed using molecular barcoding and phylogenetics.
  • Six species were identified for Bermuda, including five new to science: C. abyssalis, C. antricola, C. atrocostalis, C. lacunicola and C. perparva.)
  • Early records of Cryptonemia reported in the islands in the 1900s were re-examined and are now considered representatives of C. antricola and C. atrocostalis.
  • The description of five new species from Bermuda represents a significant addition for the region and suggests a biodiversity hotspot for the genus in this area.

6. Lenka Neal, Sergio Taboada, Lucy C. Woodall (2018) Slope-shelf faunal link and unreported diversity off Nova Scotia: Evidence from polychaete data, Deep-Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research, 1-13: 72-84.

  • Emerald Basin polychaeta fauna sampled at depths of 180 m is deep-sea in character based on analysis of polychaete genera.
  • Gully Canyon, sampled at 1600 m, harbours diverse polychaete assemblage with many species known from wider deep NW Atlantic.
  • There was no overlap in species distribution between the Emerald Basin and Gully Canyon based molecular data.
  • Aurospio dibranchiata and Ophelina abranchiata represent species complexes based on molecular data.
  • Two genetic clades of Aurospio dibranchiata were separated by depth rather than geographical distance.
  • Certacephale loveni was shown to have NW and NE Atlantic distribution as supported by molecular data.

7. Paris V Stefanoudis, Struan R. Smith, Craig Schneider, Daniel Wagner, Molly Rivers, Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley, Joana Xavier, Lucy C. Woodall, Alex D. Rogers (2018) Deep Reef Benthos of Bermuda: Field Identification Guide. Download the Guide here.

  • Deep Reef Benthos of Bermuda builds on the video and imagery data collected during Nekton’s Mission – the XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey - and provides a photographic guide for the visual identification of many of the corals, marine plants and other common invertebrates that inhabit Bermuda’s outer deep reefs.
  • This guide is designed to aid marine biologists, divers and naturalists with the identification of organisms as seen in underwater footage or live in the field.

8. Richards, J.L., P.W. Gabrielson & C.W. Schneider (2018) Sporolithon mesophoticum sp. nov. (Sporolithales, Rhodophyta) from Plantagenet Bank off Bermuda at a depth of 178 m, Phytotaxa, 385: 67-76.

9. Schneider, C.W., T.R. Popolizio & G.W. Saunders (2019). Collections from the mesophotic zone off Bermuda reveal three species of Kallymeniaceae (Gigartinales, Rhodophyta) in genera with transoceanic distributions. Journal of Phycology, 55.