Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
2012 bioluminescence and biodiversity expedition

Day 6 — Light's out, it's a wrap
October 3, 2012

Our blue-water divers went out first thing this morning for one last sampling effort. They collected more, interesting ctenophores and siphonophores, including two pristine specimens of Nanomia bijuga for Freya Goetz.

This ethereal ctenophore, Velamen parallelum, was caught during today's blue-water dive.

We found out from the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) pilots last night that more work needed to be done on the tether, so we would not be launching the ROV today. Instead we would be heading back to MBARI a little earlier than planned. We will clean our cabins and pack up the lab on our way back into Moss Landing and hope to be home in time for dinner.

Tomorrow the scientists will continue the work they started on the ship back in the lab on shore. They will conduct detailed molecular studies on our many new animal specimens to reinforce the at-sea morphological observations, and then use the data to parse together evolutionary relationships. One more small step towards a better understanding of deep-sea ecosystems!

A huge thank you to our ship's crew, Captain George Gunther, Matt Noyes, Andrew McKee, Anthony Atthowe, Perry Shoemake, Fred Peemoeller, Olin Jordan, Jason Jordan, Dan Chamberlain, and especially to the man who keeps us all fed, Patrick Mitts. Also, hats off to our skilled ROV pilots, Knute Brekke, Mark Talkovic, Randy Prickett, Bryan Schaefer, and Ben Erwin. Truly, we couldn't have done it without all of the above.

Olin Jordan, Andrew McKee, Jason Jordan, and Perry Shoemake keep watch on the bow as the R/V Western Flyer enters Moss Landing Harbor.

Looking back on a few cruise highlights:

Dazzling fluorescent display from the siphonophore Lilyopsis fluoracantha.

David Liittschwager photographs the large bioluminescent mysid, Gnathophausia.

A bioluminescent squid, Planctoteuthis, inks and swims away from the ROV.

A sea cucumber swims just up off the seafloor at 3,000 meters (9,842 feet).

Meghan Powers and Warren Francis deploy the tucker trawl.

A juvenile snipe eel and a glass squid from the tucker trawl will be taken back to Brown University for further observations.

All hands needed on deck to help unwind the damaged (and very oily) tether.

Ben Erwin, Mark Talkovic, and Randy Prickett coil 300 meters (985 feet) of damaged tether on the back deck.

Bryan Schaefer and Ben Erwin have their work cut out for them as they carefully re-terminate the fiber-optic tether on the rocking ship.

The science team and their guests from National Geographic enjoy the gorgeous sunset on Monday night from the back deck of the Western Flyer. Left to right: Stefan Seibert, Freya Goetz, Meghan Powers, Lynne Christianson, Steve Haddock, Danielle Haddock, Olivia Judson, Zach Kobrinsky, David Liittschwager, and Warren Francis.

"Using high-tech tools is one way to monitor the ocean. Another way is to have many eyes watching and gathering data. This citizen-science approach is what we are trying to use to monitor global jellyfish trends, through the website and database"—Steve Haddock

—Kyra Schlining

Previous log


Day 6 Day 6
October 3, 2012
Light's out, it's a wrap

Day 5 Day 5
October 2, 2012
Best laid plans

Day 4 Day 4
October 1, 2012
Nocturnal nature

Day 3 Day 3
September 30, 2012
So many mysteries in the deep

Day 2 Day 2
September 29, 2012
National Geographic crew records the expedition

Day 1 Day 1
September 28, 2012
First day of diving


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, 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.

Detritus sampler

Detritus samplers are large plexiglass containers with lids that can be controlled by the pilot of the ROV and gently closed once an organism is trapped inside.

High frequency suction sampler

This sampler acts like a vacuum cleaner sucking up samples and depositing them into one of the 12 buckets.

Blue-water scuba rig

Blue-water diving is a highly specialized mode of scientific diving that lets researchers observe, experiment, and collect delicate midwater organisms in situ. A weighted line is suspended from the surface for the divers to attach the "trapeze" to which they attach their individual safety lines. Divers are attached to their safety lines by quick releases and a safety diver watches over all of them from near the trapeze throughout the dive.

Two-meter midwater trawl

A midwater trawl collects specimens while being towed behind the Western Flyer. Researchers have the option of trawling with the net open (as seen in this photo) or keeping the net closed until a particular depth is reached and then opening the net. The net can then be closed prior to recovery. This provides scientists with a discrete sample from a particular depth.

 Research Team

Steve Haddock
Chief Scientist

Steve Haddock studies the biodiversity and bio-optical properties of gelatinous zooplankton (various types of jelly-like animals). He uses molecular methods along with morphological traits to examine the relationships of rarely-studied, deep-sea comb jellies and other open-ocean drifters, many of which are new to science. These animals also are able to make their own light (bioluminescence), and Steve is interested in the genes involved in light-production.

Lynne Christianson
Senior Research Technician

Lynne works in Steve Haddock's laboratory. Her research focuses on exploring the biodiversity of marine zooplankton, especially cnidarians and ctenophores (jellies) and phaeodarians (radiolarians). She uses the tools of molecular biology to aid in the identification of these animals, to study their evolutionary relationships, and to investigate the origin and function of bioluminescence and fluorescence. In addition to assisting in the collection and examination of animals from ROV dives, trawls, and blue-water scuba dives, her main job will be cruise logistics. Her goal is to make this cruise as successful as possible for all the scientists on board!

Danielle Haddock
Senior Grants & Accounting Specialist

Danielle has a background in biology and grant writing and handles all external funding at MBARI which includes managing grants, negotiating contracts, monitoring subawards, making people talk to each other... awake still? When she is not enforcing sponsor and MBARI policy, she likes to cook, climb mountains, travel, and hang out with her nephew. She is still floored by the seafaring life.

Kyra Schlining
Senior Research Technician

Kyra is a senior research technician in the video lab at MBARI. Her main responsibility, both on shore and at sea, is to manage and annotate the video footage recorded during MBARI ROV missions. Kyra specializes in identifying deep-sea organisms and describing their behaviors as well as recording observations on habitat and equipment. On the ship she will also assist with processing biological samples and writing up the cruise logs. Kyra's duties in the video lab also include assisting scientists with accessing the data from the video database for publications, editing video from our archives using Final Cut Pro, and presenting current MBARI research to the public, mainly through our sister organization, the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Meghan Powers
Graduate Research Assistant

Meghan is a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Santa Cruz, working in Steve Haddock's lab. Her research is focused on understanding the molecular biology and evolution of bioluminescence in a variety of deep-sea zooplankton including cephalopods, chaetognaths, and jellyfish.

Warren Francis
Graduate Research Assistant

Warren Francis is a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, working in Steve Haddock's lab. His work focuses on understanding the molecular biology and chemistry of polychaetes and other luminous animals, as well as general computational approaches to annotating functions of proteins for non-model organisms.

Freya Goetz
Research Assistant
Brown University

Freya Goetz is the research assistant to Casey Dunn at Brown University. Her interests are very broad and include phylogenetics, invertebrate symbioses, bioluminescence, chaetognath morphology, intertidal ecology, and scientific illustration of marine invertebrates (especially gelatinous zooplankton). She is currently working with Stefan Siebert to characterize gene expression spatially within a siphonophore colony, Nanomia bijuga. She is crossing her fingers for calm seas and quiet wind to maximize blue-water diving possibilities!

Stefan Siebert
Postdoctoral Fellow
Brown University

Stefan Siebert is a postdoctoral fellow in the Dunn lab at Brown University and is interested in the developmental complexity of siphonophores, a group of colonial animals belonging to the Cnidaria. He is looking forward to collecting specimens for descriptive work and for the molecular characterization of colony formation.