This article presents the development of an underwater gripper that utilizes soft robotics technology to delicately manipulate and sample fragile species on the deep reef. Existing solutions for deep sea robotic manipulation have historically been driven by the oil industry, resulting in destructive interactions with undersea life. Soft material robotics relies on compliant materials that are inherently impedance matched to natural environments and to soft or fragile organisms. We demonstrate design principles for soft robot end effectors, bench-top characterization of their grasping performance, and conclude by describing in situ testing at mesophotic depths. The result is the first use of soft robotics in the deep sea for the nondestructive sampling of benthic fauna.