Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Exploring Ancient Coral Gardens
Davidson Expedition, January 26- February 4, 2006

Click on any name to read an interview from the expedition participants
Penny Allen, Allen Andrews, Jim Barry, Lisa Borok, Erica Burton, Chad King, Lonny Lundsten, George Matsumoto, Huff McGonigal, Warwick Sloss, Andrew De Vogelaere

Andrew De Vogelaere, Ph.D
MBNMS Research Coordinator/SIMoN Director

What is your role on this cruise?
I will be the Chief Scientist on this cruise to study deep-water corals of the Davidson Seamount. My role is to ensure success of the overall mission, and to accept the blame for any problems. We have several groups of people with different objectives, and I have to balance each of their needs with what the weather and technology will allow during our 10 day expedition. The science team, crew of the R/V Western Flyer, and pilots of the ROV Tiburon are so experienced and competent that my job should be easy.

What are your primary goals?
My primary goals are the same as those of the overall mission: to better understand what determines where deep-sea corals are found, to collect bamboo corals for ageing and growth measurements, and to collect excellent video footage for our BBC partners. I also want to enhance geology and taxonomy studies by collecting rocks and corals.


What do you expect to find?
I expect to find large, beautiful and ancient corals, particularly where current speeds are highest and where sediment does not cover rocks. Because Davidson Seamount is over 99% unexplored, I also expect to see things that none of us have ever seen before.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My lease favorite part of a research cruise is not being able to bring my family along. My favorite part is being involved in exciting discoveries that I will then be able to share with others.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
My title is Research Coordinator for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. It's exciting because I get to develop a research program for an area that is, by definition, nationally significant, and because I'm involved in applying research for resource management. My path to becoming an applied marine scientist included: an interest in breeding tropical fish while in high school; good college lab experiences on the coast and inland while studying to become a biologist; graduate studies in marine sciences while doing consulting work on projects like assessing impacts of the Exxon Valdez oil spill; becoming a Research Coordinator at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve and applying my general knowledge of ecology; serving in the elected position of Moss Landing Harbor Commissioner and learning, first hand, how public policies are made and impact people; and then on to my current position at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.


Jim Barry, Ph.D top of page
MBARI Associate Scientist
http://www.mbari.org/staff/barry

What is your role on this cruise?
My role on this cruise is to study factors that influence the distribution, abundance, and size of deep-sea corals on Davidson Seamount. I am one of several scientists on the cruise who are interested in deep-sea corals.

What are your primary goals?
My primary goals are to test the hypothesis that the size, abundance, and distribution of many deep-sea corals on Davidson Seamount are directly related to patterns of current flow and suspended organic particulate material over the seamount. In particular, I will be measuring current speeds in areas that corals are very abundant and in areas where they are less abundant, absent, or appear smaller in size. We have several current meters which will be used to measure flow over the seamount, and in locations near the top of the seamount and within nearby valleys. Simultaneously, we will measure the levels of suspended particulate organic debris in the water column, using water samplers attached to the ROV. Filtration of these water samples, and subsequent analyses, will provide information on the levels of food availabile for corals in nearby, but different habitats. Our hypothesis is that corals thrive in areas with food available locally, as appears to be the case for the bubble-gum coral at the top of the seamount where flow is high, effectively sweeping suspended food particles past these beautiful colonies. 

What do you expect to find?
We expect to see large colonies of many species of coral, sponges, and other deep-sea animals in high abundances near the top of the seamount. We also expect these filter feeding animals to be most abundant at the top and near ridgelines where currents accelerate and sweep rapidly past organisms. In contrast filter feeders are expected to be much less abundant- or at least smaller – in nearby valleys where flow is expected to be lower and sedimentation is high.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My favorite part of the cruise is the thrill of viewing areas on this seamount that have never been seen by humans, including some of the deep-sea coral gardens rich with many species, colors, and shapes of corals, sponges, fishes, sea stars, anemones and other animals. My least favorite part of the cruise is leaving my family home and missing them terribly.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I am an Associate Scientist on the staff at MBARI. As a young boy I was fascinated by animals, dragging home just about any animal I could find. I also developed a love of the ocean in my youth. I still have a book from my childhood on my bookshelf – “Mysteries of the Deep”. Becoming a marine scientist is challenging and fun. I studied Zoology and Marine Science in school, receiving degrees in Zoology, Marine Biology, and Oceanography.


Penny Allen top of page
BBC Assistant Producer

What is your role on the cruise?
I am an Assistant Producer for the BBC's Natural History Unit. We are making a documentary on deep sea life, and I will be directing filming of various deep-sea animals found around the Davidson Seamount.

What are your primary goals?
We are hoping to film beautiful High Definition images of the colourful and varied marine life found on and around the Davidson Seamount, and in the deep mid-water above. If any of the scientists on-board bring interesting animals to the surface, we are hoping to put them in special tanks so that we can document them in close-up, using video and digital stills cameras.

What do you expect to find?
On the seamount, we hope to find and film a variety of colourful sponges, deep sea corals, and anemones. We'll be keeping a close eye out for any unusual deep sea fish, sea cucumbers, sea stars etc. And of course if a giant squid were to pay a visit, we'd be delighted to take its picture!

What is your favorite part of a research cruise? 
My favourite part is getting to meet and talk to the diverse and interesting people that come together on these cruises. It's always fascinating hearing about the amazing studies that the scientists are involved in. My least favourite part is that I always come back a stone heavier from all the good food and lack of exercise!

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
My job title is Assistant Producer (AP). I got into television when I answered a job advertisement in the New Scientist magazine! I'd always dreamed of working in wildlife programme-making, and was incredibly lucky to be in the right place at the right time, I think. I started out working as a researcher on a T.V. series called 'The Blue Planet' and progressed from research into a more active directing role as an AP.


George Matsumoto, Ph.D. top of page
MBARI Senior Research and Education Specialist
http://www.mbari.org/staff/mage

What is your role on this cruise?
My role will be both as a scientist and as an educator. Although my research focus is on the midwater jellies, I am also very interested in animals that live on the bottom and in the water just above the bottom (in a special area called the benthic boundary layer). I will be helping in the control room during the dives, working in the labs after the dives, and writing some web logs for MBARI's expedition pages.

What are your primary goals?
My primary goals are to support NOAA and BBC with their filming and outreach efforts, help Dr. Jim Barry with his benthic biology research, and try to get a little research accomplished myself along with working on MBARI's outreach efforts.

What do you expect to find?
Incredible, fascinating organisms. More information and detail about familar organisms that we could get earlier (we have a fabulous new High Definition video camera now). New insight into the Davidson Seamount biodiversity and
factors that might influence organism distribution. Hopefully some new species of carnivorous tunicates.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
Favorite is just being out at sea and being able to engage in some intense and exciting research. Least favorite has to be being away from my family and getting seasick - luckily that latter doesn't happen too often as the Western Flyer is a great boat.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
My offical job title is Senior Education and Research Specialist - a long title that means that I have what I think is the best job in the world! I get to do research and education in Monterey Bay, California - a vacation destination for many! I decided to be a scientist after taking a weekend course that put a mask and snorkel on my face (way back in fifth grade) and literally and figuratively opened my eyes to the incredible ocean environment. I majored in marine biology at UC Berkeley and then went and taught for a summer at the Catalina Island Marine Institute. I found that I enjoy both research and education and went back to UC Los Angeles for a PhD degree. I spent three years teaching in South Australia and over the past (many) years have been lucky enough to dive/research in Antarctica, Friday Harbor, Iceland, Norway, Arctic, Sargasso Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Australia, and a few other locales - and I'm not done yet!


Erica Burton, M.S. top of page
MBNMS Research Specialist

What is your role on this cruise?
As a marine scientist, I will assist with species identifications, annotate video in real-time, and collect corals.

What are your primary goals?
To refine and expand upon a species list (inventory) of animals observed at the Davidson Seamount in 2002. I’d also like to better characterize species distributions on the seamount.

What do you expect to find?
Spectacular corals and sponges in a range of colors and sizes, and rarely observed fishes.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My favorite part of a research cruise is always being excited and surprised by the diversity of habitats and species in the ocean, especially critters in the deep sea. My least favorite part is not getting enough sleep.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
At the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, my job title is Research Specialist. As a young adult, I was fascinated by fishes, and became a certified scuba diver. I soon enrolled in a marine botany class that led to pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in marine biology at Long Beach State University. I also received a Master of Science degree in marine science at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, specializing in age and growth of fishes.


Huff McGonigal top of page
Environmental Policy Specialist
MBNMS, ONMS, NOS, NOAA, DOC

What is your role on this cruise?
Assisting with coral collections, web site content,  marine policy liaison, and black jack dealer.

What are your primary goals?
To help the team in its mission to explore and document this remarkable corner of the planet.  I have had the privelege of working on the policy issues surrounding gaining sanctuary status for the Davidson Seamount and protecting the fragile corals that live there. To see first hand the environment that I have been working to help preserve will not only be exciting for me, but will also hopefully give me the ability to instill that excitment in others.
What do you expect to find?
Beautiful long-lived corals and sponges, rare and bizarre species of fish and invertebrates

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?

My favorite part of being on a research cruise is being totally immersed in its mission. My least favorite part is being away from my small wife.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
My job title is Environmental Policy Specialist for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.  As a Monterey native, I grew up surounded and awed by the ocean and knew that I wanted to work on issues involving the health of the marine ecosystem. My undergraduate studies in New Zealand and Santa Barbara were in marine biology, particularly in assessing the effectiveness of marine reserves. Instead of going to graduate school in biology, however, I felt that I could be most effective working in marine policy and law. I went to law school to study environmental law and became an attorney and I now work on resource protection issues for the Sanctuary.  This has included working on the protection of the fragile corals on the Davidson Seamount.


Allen Andrews top of page
MLML Research Associate

What is your role on this cruise?
My role is to collect corals for the purpose of age and growth investigations and to make observations of the fishes associated with the seamount

What are your primary goals?
I plan to collect two full bamboo coral colonies and 30 small limbs from various bamboo corals.  The two full colonies will be analyzed using lead-210 dating to further support age and growth estimates determined from a bamboo coral collected on the last Davidson Survey.  The 30 limbs will be used to look for indications of differences in growth within and between bamboo coral colonies and between locations on the seamount.  

What do you expect to find?
I think we will find a lot of coral to choose from based on the images and video taken during the last survey. I expect that we will be successful with collecting the colonies and colony limbs and that the following lead-210 study will provide further insight on how long these corals live.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My favorite part of the research cruise will be the exploration of new places. The deep sea is a wondrous place filled with interesting organisms; little is known about them and how they live. The corals create habitat for diverse communities of invertebrates and fishes. To explore areas that no one has seen is exhilarating and I feel honored to be a part of such an expedition. My least favorite part is that being at sea always takes a lot of energy. Sleep is usually short and interrupted and having the floor suddenly move from under you can be disconcerting at times

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?

I am the radiochemist for this cruise, which is something that evolved for me over time. Basically I use naturally occurring radioactivity as a time keeper to give us an idea of how long something lives. I have long been fascinated with long lived organisms and have worked to use methods that tell us just how old invertebrates and fishes can get. Realizing there was a problem with determining the age of many of the deep sea animals made me focus on techniques that are used to solve these problems. I really didn't know that I would be doing this 10 years ago. Following my bliss was the key to having such a great job.

Chad King top of page
SIMoN Data Analyses Specialist

What is your role on this cruise?
Data Manager

What are your primary goals?
To ensure metadata (data about data) are collected efficiently and fully.

What do you expect to find?
I would expect to find that the corals are still in great shape, and perhaps several new or rarely-seen species on, around, and above the Davidson Seamount.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My favorite part of a research cruise is the fact that I am not behind my desk for a while.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I am a marine scientist who specializes in the application of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) to the marine environment. I followed this career path for the excellent salary, er, I mean the great fascination I have for the complex, yet important ecological systems in our oceans. I became one by learning what a marine scientist studies through undergraduate and graduate school, and what a marine scientist experiences through post-graduate employment.


Lisa Borok top of page
MBARI Communications Associates

What is your role on this cruise?
I am serving as the web coordinator for the NOAA Ocean Explorations site on this cruise.

What are your primary goals?
It’s my job to find great photos and video clips on each day’s dive and prepare and send these to the NOAA web master so he can post them to the site. We also have two sets of logs to prepare each day: one set that the scientists and crew are writing for the NOAA site, and one set that Lenny writes for the MBARI site. On this cruise I help coordinate, write, and edit the daily NOAA logs.

In addition, my goals are to assist the BBC team, lend a hand with video annotation, and provide support in any other way I can.

What do you expect to find?
Since we are collecting the first HD footage of Davidson, I expect that we’ll see the amazing “old-growth” corals, the sponges, and other always-cool invertebrates in even more detail. We’re exploring some new sites on the seamount, so I hope we’ll see some interesting lavas. Who knows, maybe these new sites will be totally different than what we’ve seen before.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
This is my first cruise for MBARI and only my second extended trip to sea, though I’ve been on a number of oceanographic day-trips. I am excited to experience life aboard the Western Flier and to be a part of the discovery at Davidson. As Richard Feynman put it: “it’s the pleasure of finding things out.”

The thing I least look forward to is getting seasick, or as a wise person once put it: “Seasickness is where the hope of dying keeps you alive!”

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I’m one of two Communications Associates at MBARI. Our goal is to share the science and technology achievements made by MBARI staff with the media and the general public in engaging and relevant ways.

As a undergraduate studying marine invertebrates and ecology, and later as a graduate student in biological oceanography, I discovered that I had a knack for explaining scientific concepts and ideas to non-scientists. Later, I found that people would actually pay me to do this! I love learning new things and sharing stories about both the science and the researchers who do this work.

I’ve had a variety of jobs that helped me develop and hone my communication and teaching skills: cataloging museum specimens, teaching museum and community college classes, running and managing an electron microscope lab, directing a high school marine science competition, and developing public education programs and exhibits at a marine research lab. My work at MBARI challenges me to learn something new every day and to always find the best ways to “translate” this exciting knowledge for the public.


Lonny Lundsten top of page
MBARI Video Lab Research Technician

What is your role on this cruise?
I will be in charge of video data management, utilizing MBARI's Video Annotation Reference System (VARS) to annotate video data in real time. This work entails identifying unique biological and geological features that will be seen during the dive, while using MBARI-designed software to log the observations. Additionally, I will be processing many of the biological samples collected during the cruise, preparing them for identification and further analysis by MBARI and NOAA scientists.

What are your primary goals?
I'm hoping that we can explore some new areas of Davidson Seamount in an effort to expand our understanding of the organisms which live there with the goal of increasing our species diversity lists.

What do you expect to find?
I expect that we'll observe and collect many unique and interesting organisms.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
I go on several research cruises every year and each one is unique in it's own way. Every cruise is full of discovery and presents a unique opportunity for learning, which make my job exciting and rewarding.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I'm a Video Lab Research Technician. I received a B.S. in Marine & Coastal Ecology at CSU, Monterey Bay and I am currently pursuing an M.S. at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, where I am studying the biology of several seamounts found off the coast of California.


Warwick Sloss top of page
BBC Cameraman

What is your role on this cruise?
I will be the cameraman on the BBC Planet Earth team.

What are your primary goals?
We are hoping to get great high definition images of the sea floor using the RV camera and also some shots of various critters in a tank setup.

What do you expect to find?
I have no idea what to expect, it will be a real adventure for me.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
I’ve never been on a cruise like this, but I fully expect to enjoy the cosmopolitan cuisine and sizzling night life.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I am a freelance natural history cameraman. It was a childhood dream of mine to go into this industry as I have a real passion for wildlife and for the technical side of the work. Having completed a degree in Zoology, I started as a trainee at the BBC in 1995 and went freelance in 1998, and have never stopped working since. I’m hoping to stop soon though as I’m getting quite sleepy.