Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Benthic Biology and Ecology
Chief Scientist Jim Barry

The benthic biology research group studies the biology and ecology of marine seafloor communities, with a goal of understanding interactions among environmental factors and biological adaptations that influence the survival, growth, and reproduction of organisms, ultimately determining their distribution and abundance. Their recent work emphasizes the influence of climate change on ocean animals and ecosystems. On this cruise, researchers return to several sites to collect and sample materials and animals left on the seafloor during prior cruises. They will also be measuring the sensitivity of deep-sea crabs to ocean acidification and low oxygen levels, and will retrieve sea urchins to determine the influence of urchins on the smaller animal assemblage.

Day 5: Squeezing in two dives on our last day
October 28, 2013

As expected, the wind rose last night and by 6 am, the start of our day, it was blowing between 25 and 30 knots – too windy and rough to launch ROV. The forecast was for the winds to drop through the day, so we decided to wait it out and hope for the best. It turned out that it didn’t take long. After only about an hour, we were able to start the dive, and by 8:30, we were working on the same urchin caging experiment at 1,000 meters that was the focus of our first day on this cruise.Read more

Day 4: Collecting corn-bale animals and logs
October 27, 2013

Our day started a little later this morning, since we didn’t need to deploy any elevators over the side of the ship. Read more

day 3 Day 3: Corn stover and respiration experiments
October 26, 2013

We had two primary goals for today’s ROV dive. First, to deploy the benthic respiration system (BRS). Second, we planned to inspect a bale of “corn-stover” (like a large hay bale, except made of corn stalks) that we sank to the seafloor five years ago. Read more

elevator to seafloor Day 2: Elevator to the seafloor
October 25, 2013

We started today before the crack of dawn, deploying a “benthic elevator” over the side of the Western Flyer, and allowing it to sink down 3,200 meters to the seafloor. Read more.

experimental cage Day 1: Urchin Cages
October 24, 2013

When the ROV Doc Ricketts was brought back on board the RV Western Flyer, it carried not only samples, but also some of the cages that had been on the seafloor for the past two years. Patrick Whaling and the ROV pilots try to get the battered cages out of the water so that we can close the moonpool doors and lash down the ROV. Read more.


Day 5 Day 5
October 28
Squeezing in two dives on our last day

Day 4

Day 4
October 27
Collecting corn-bale animals and more logs

Day 3

Day 3
October 26
Corn stover and respiration experiments

Day 2

Day 2
October 25
Elevator to the seafloor

Day 1

Day 1
October 24
Urchin cages


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

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

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

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

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.

kim fulton-bennett

Kim Fulton-Bennett

Public Information Specialist

Kim Fulton-Bennett works as a public information specialist at MBARI, writing articles and news releases for the institution's web site and working with members of the media on MBARI stories. During this cruise, he will be helping take digital notes about each dive, taking photos of the research activities on board, and helping prepare the daily expedition logs.

Craig McClain

Assistant Director of Science
National Evolutionary Synthesis Center

jenna judge

Jenna Judge

Postdoctoral Student
University of California, Berkeley

Jenna Judge is a doctoral student at University of California, Berkeley who is focusing on diversification patterns in chemosynthetic and biogenic habitats. Two years ago, she sank a collection of 10 different kinds of wood in Monterey Bay during a cruise with the Barry lab. On this trip, she hopes to recover all 28 wood bundles to see what animals have colonized them and whether there are differences between animal community richness and abundance for different wood types.

Rosemary Romero

Doctoral Student
University of California, Berkeley

Rosemary Romero is a doctoral student at University of California, Berkeley studying green tides in San Francisco Bay. She will be helping Jenna Judge recover sunken wood with Jim Barry and his lab members. She is excited for the opportunity to go to sea and to discover what animals have colonized the sunken wood since two years ago.