So many mysteries in the deep
September 30, 2012
After 25 years, you might think we had seen all there is to see here in the deep Pacific Ocean, but today was a good reminder that that is definitely not true! During the first hour of our remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dive today, we encountered a very bizarre deep-sea anglerfish from the family Gigantactinidae that we have never filmed before. It had an extremely long lure that was “shaggy” at the tip. Completely amazing!
I work in the video lab, and my job is to watch the ROV videos and annotate the animals and habitat that we see during MBARI dive missions. I have been working at MBARI for 16 years, yet today we observed a second fish I have never seen before. Plus, we caught another mystery mollusc. The mystery mollusc is an unusual new midwater species of sea slug that is in the process of being described.
Today’s dive site is the farthest offshore that we are planning to go. During our dive, Steve Haddock noticed that our longitude was reading 123° 45′ (1-2-3-4-5…). We managed to fit in two shorter dives today, and now the scientists are very busy working with two loads of specimens from the sample containers on the ROV.
We collected several superstars in the bioluminescent realm, such as Tomopteris (a midwater worm),Sternoptyx (silver dollar hatchetfish), Argyropelecus (hatchetfish), and several very bright ctenophores. Steve Haddock and Meghan Powers will photograph the light patterns of these specimens in the darkroom onboard the ship. They will also measure the spectrum (wavelength) of the light emissions. Steve and Meghan are trying to understand the biochemistry behind the variety of ways deep-sea organisms are able to create light.
As you can tell, there is still much to learn about the animals living deep in Monterey Canyon, and in the global ocean. We have only just begun to scratch the surface. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.