Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
2013 benthic ecology cruise


Day 6 – Shallow water
December 16, 2013

We moved to shallow waters last night to prepare for our last cruise day, working on finishing our sampling of the urchin caging experiment. The 200 meter site is the shallowest of three depths used for the experiment (200, 600, and 1,000 meters). Here, the water is warmer, more oxygen-rich, higher in pH, and is generally more productive. Since all of the benthic animals we study are cold-blooded, the warmer conditions raise their metabolic rates above the levels found in deeper waters. Although they will need more energy to live in this warmer water, they will also be able to grow and reproduce faster—at least that is what we expect. Part of our experiment is to measure differences in growth between depths.

An urchin exclusion cage on the seafloor at 200 meters. This has several sea stars and sea cucumbers on top.

The major task for the day was to complete all activities at the 200 meter urchin growth study site. This included finding all six urchin cages, moving them aside, collecting all the megafauna (large animals) inside, collecting sediment samples using our sediment core devices, sampling three nearby sites without cages in a similar manner, then gathering all of our cages in a bundle and pulling them to the surface under the remotely operated vehicle (ROV). This required three ROV dives and the entire day.

Collecting sediment cores from an urchin cage location (after the cage was removed). The sediment samples will be sieved to separate the small animals (macrofauna) to be later identified and counted in the lab.

Everything went quite well. When we arrived at the bottom (only about 10 minutes after the ROV was launched from the Western Flyer), we immediately notice lots of prawns and juvenile octopi near our cages. They turned out to be quite curious, and even gathered around the ROV in front of the camera as we worked on each cage. A few days ago, the sablefish were the troublemakers. Today, it was octopus and prawns.

The caging work required all day. For each cage, we observed the megafauna in and around the cage, then moved the cage and collected 10 sediment cores. One core will be used to measure sediment grain size, carbon content, and ATP (a proxy for bacterial abundance). Nine cores will be sieved to remove the sediment and separate the small animals, that can then be identified and counted in the laboratory under a microscope. Ultimately, we will compare the differences in macrofauna within cages with urchins to cages without urchins to get an idea of the effects the urchins have on these smaller animals.

Once the caging activities were complete, we collected about 20 adult urchins in the area for studies of reproductive conditions and size, as well as about 20 juvenile octopus for laboratory studies concerning their tolerance to ocean acidification—for more on ocean acidification, see the cruise report from December 14th.

Collecting a young octopus using the ROV suction sampler. We will use the 20 octopi collected to study their tolerance to ocean acidification in laboratory experiments. Several spot prawns can be seen watching the action.

We finished up just after dinner and are now heading back to Moss Landing where we’ll wait for the tide to rise to enter the harbor at about 9:30 pm. This was a great cruise. We completed all we set out to do, had great weather, and fantastic support from the crews of the ship and ROV.

— Jim Barry

Previous log

 Logbook

Day 6 Day 6: Shallow water
December 16
We moved to shallow waters last night to prepare for our last cruise day, working on finishing our sampling of the urchin caging experiment.


Day 5 Day 5: Exploring unknown territory
December 15
We were all excited about today's exploration dive on Sur Ridge, a ten-mile-long submarine ridge about 20 miles due west of Pt. Sur, on the California coast.


Day 4

Day 4: A corn field on the deep-sea floor?
December 14
Our second objective for today was to visit the bale of corn stover we sank in 3,200 meter depth in 2009.


Day 3

Day 3: Hooligan fish
December 13
Sablefish were common here a couple of days ago, but today it was as if a gang of troublemakers showed up.


Day 2

Day 2: Out of sight - out of mind
December 12
An estimated 10,000 shipping containers are lost over the side of cargo ships during rough weather each year. What happens to them?


Day 1

Day 1: Busy first day
December 11
The research objectives for the day were to retrieve a benthic mooring deployed in the canyon six months ago, and to begin sampling a deep-sea urchin caging experiment that was initiated two years ago.


 Equipment

R/V Western Flyer

The R/V Western Flyer is a small water-plane area twin hull (SWATH) oceanographic research vessel measuring 35.6 meters long and 16.2 meters wide. It was designed and constructed for MBARI to serve as the support vessel for ROV operations. Her missions include the Monterey Bay as well as extended cruises to Hawaii, the Gulf of California, and the Pacific Northwest.

ROV Doc Ricketts

ROV Doc Ricketts is MBARI's next generation ROV. The system breaks new ground in providing an integrated unmanned submersible research platform, with many powerful features providing efficient, reliable, and precise sampling and data collection in a wide range of missions.

Push cores

A push-core looks like a clear plastic tube with a rubber handle on one end. Just as its name implies, the push core is pushed down into loose sediment using the ROV's manipulator arm. As the sediment fills up the core, water exits out the top through one-way valves. When the core is pulled up again, these valves close, which (most of the time) keeps the sediment from sliding out of the core tube. When we bring these cores back to the surface, we typically look for living animals and organic material in the sediments.

Benthic respirometer system

Oxygen consumption (a measure of biological activity) of the organisms living in the sediment is measured using a benthic respirometer system (BRS). This instrument is used in situ (in place on the seafloor).

 Research Team

jim barry

Jim Barry

Senior Scientist
MBARI

Jim Barry's research program focuses on the effects of climate change on ocean ecosystems. In addition to climate change, his research interests are broad, spanning topics such as the biology and ecology of chemosynthetic biological communities in the deep sea, coupling between upper ocean and seafloor ecosystems in polar and temperate environments, the biology of deep-sea communities, and the biology of submarine canyon communities. Jim has helped inform Congress on ocean acidification, ocean carbon sequestration, and climate change by speaking at congressional hearings, briefings and meetings with congressional members.

kurt buck

Kurt Buck

Senior Research Technician
MBARI

Kurt Buck specializes in quantitative enumeration, ecology, and imaging of marine protists and bacteria. Upper water-column communities from Antarctic and Arctic sea ice to equatorial regions were his initial focus. He is currently working with deep-sea sediment communities including those from hypoxic zones.

patrick whaling

Patrick Whaling

Senior Research Technician
MBARI

Patrick has worked at MBARI since its beginning in the fall of 1987. Prior to his move to MBARI, he spent seventeen years at Duke University Marine Lab investigating heavy metals in the marine environment. He currently works with Jim Barry in the design and construction of sampling gear used on the ROV to collect benthic animals, in addition to processing benthic samples and conducting carbon-hydrogen-oxygen (CHN) analyses.

Chris Lovera

Chris Lovera

Senior Research Technician
MBARI

Chris supports Jim Barry's Benthic Biology and Ecology, and Free-Ocean CO2 Enrichment research projects. On this expedition, Chris's responsibilities are varied, from collection and curation of invertebrates used in Benthic Respiration System metabolic rate and manipulative oxygen and pH studies, to Geographic Information System work, to operation of the dissolved inorganic carbon analyzer. Chris's recent work focuses on the effects of ocean acidification on invertebrate behavior.

Josi Taylor

Josi Taylor

Research Associate
MBARI

Josi will continue to look at the ecological impacts of the shipping container lost to the deep sea in 2004. After analyzing data collected during a joint MBARI and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary cruise in 2011, Josi is excited to see how the communities of animals on and around the container may have changed in the last two and a half years. She will also be taking samples specifically for toxicity analysis during this cruise. This information will provide a better idea of the possible effects of the thousands of shipping containers lost to the deep sea each year.

Andrew Devogelaere

Andrew DeVogelaere

Research Coordinator/SIMoN Program Director
National Marine Sanctuaries/NOAA

Andrew oversees the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary's research program. This includes facilitating collaboration among over 20 research institutions in the region, providing technical information to decision makers and the Sanctuary staff, and initiating research on resource management issues. He is also leading the effort to develop the Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network (SIMoN), a critical program that assesses how populations of marine organisms and habitats are changing through time. He has been directly involved in a wide variety of research projects, ranging in habitats from the deep sea to estuaries. Dr. DeVogelaere has an M.S. in Marine Science and a Ph.D. in Biology.

Erica Burton

Erica Burton

Research Specialist
National Marine Sanctuaries/NOAA

As a Research Specialist, Erica Burton works on marine research issues such as ecosystem characterization, marine protected areas, and submerged cultural resources. She also spends time at sea collecting scientific data and information. Several projects include characterization of the Davidson Seamount, monitoring and characterization of deep-water fish and invertebrate assemblages, and biological characterizations at shipwreck sites. Erica also provides programatic support to the Research Activity Panel, and on the evaluation of MBNMS research permits. Erica earned a M.S. in Marine Science. Her graduate research focused on age, longevity, and growth determination of fishes, including radiometric age determination of the giant grenadier, bocaccio rockfish, Atlantic tarpon, and Atlantic sturgeon.


Chad King

Chad King

Research Specialist
National Marine Sanctuaries/NOAA

Chad has been with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) since 2002, and is responsible for the collection, analyses, and dissemination of spatial data for the Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network (SIMoN) and MBNMS. These data help integrate past and present monitoring programs within the Sanctuary and are the foundation of decision-making tools such as interactive maps that are made available to the general public. He is also a NOAA divemaster and an active participant in subtidal research, including kelp forest and invasive species monitoring and underwater photography and videography. Additionally, he produces short outreach films and has produced significant content for the Sanctuary Exploration Center. Chad was instrumental in developing "SeaPhoto", an iOS app that features imagery and life history content of the MBNMS. Chad has a M.S. in Marine Science. His academic research focused on kelp forest ecology and subtropical ecological dynamics and genetics in the Gulf of California.


Oren Frey

Oren Frey

Research consultant
National Marine Sanctuaries/NOAA

Oren Frey has worked with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary since 2011, first as a Sea Grant fellow and then as a consultant on a variety of projects. In preparation for the MBARI/MBNMS cruise to the shipping container on Smooth Ridge in 2011, he researched the phenomenon of shipping container loss. Oren is interested to see how ecological conditions at the container site may have changed, as a means of better understanding the range of impacts that lost containers can have. Oren will be involved with sample processing and will also assist with science communication of some of the team's activities.