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MBARI NEWS

April 14, 2014
Carnivorous sponges on Davidson Seamount
A large group of Asbestopluma monticola sponges grow on top of a dead sponge on Davidson Seamount, off the Central California coast.

Killer sponges sound like creatures from a B-grade horror movie. In fact, they thrive in the lightless depths of the deep sea. Scientists first discovered that some sponges are carnivorous about 20 years ago. Since then only seven carnivorous species have been found in all of the northeastern Pacific. A new paper authored by MBARI marine biologist Lonny Lundsten and two Canadian researchers describes four new species of carnivorous sponges living on the deep seafloor, from the Pacific Northwest to Baja California.

Wood bundle on seafloor
This photo shows one of 36 bundles of acacia wood that sat on the deep seafloor for five years as part of a long-term wood-fall experiment.

April 9, 2014

When it comes to food, most of the deep sea is a desert. In this food-poor environment, even bits of dead wood, waterlogged enough to sink, can support thriving communities of specialized animals. A new paper by biologists at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) shows that wood-boring clams serve as “ecosystem engineers,” making the organic matter in the wood available to other animals that colonize wood falls in the deep waters of Monterey Canyon.    Read more

Satellite image of San Pedro Bay with gliders and ESPs
This satellite image shows the temperature of the ocean surface in and around San Pedro Bay on April 2, 2014. The purple and blue areas have colder water, possibly due to "upwelling" of cold water near the north end of the bay.

April 9, 2014

In late March 2014, like stealthy electronic sharks, two underwater gliders began cruising the ocean in and around San Pedro Bay, off Southern California. But instead of looking for a meal of fish or sea lions, these robotic vehicles were looking for signs of microscopic algae. These gliders are just the first of a small menagerie of instruments that scientists will be placing in the ocean over the next month to track harmful algal blooms as part of this year’s spring ECOHAB (Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms) experiment.    Read more

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