Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
2012 midwater ecology cruise


Cruise Background

In order to document the effects of declining oxygen concentrations on midwater communities, the midwater ecology research group has conducted approximately one remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dive per month since 1998, compiling a time series which measures the identity, abundance, and vertical distribution of the constituents of the midwater fauna at specific sites. The results of the time series demonstrate that several species have already been displaced by the expanding oxygen minimum zone (OMZ). OMZs are depths, typically 300 to 1,000 meters (1,000 to 3,280 feet) below the surface, where oxygen concentrations are already quite low in many parts of the world's oceans.

The midwater team will be examining the physiological characteristics of midwater animals relative to the expanding OMZ. This research utilizes the midwater respirometry system (MRS), an instrument which gathers oxygen consumption measurements in situ, to gauge the metabolism of animals without subjecting them to the stresses of decompression during transport to the surface. Data provided by the MRS help to determine the oxygen level at which each species switches from “regulation” to “compensation.” Once these oxygen levels are known for a number of species, the future of how expansion of the OMZ will change the spatial composition of the midwater community can be predicted, as well as the ecological implications of such changes.

In addition, the MBARI research team will be joined by a group of husbandry staff from our sister organization—the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is interested in the potential for creating an exhibit of deepwater organisms and will be working closely with MBARI on organisms such as jellies (with George Matsumoto) and cephalopods (with Henk-Jan Hoving).

Related Links

Video

For years marine biologists have puzzled over what the mysterious vampire squid eats. Recent research by Henk-Jan Hoving and Bruce Robison at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute finally reveals the answer. These deep-sea creatures use long, retractile filaments to passively harvest particles and aggregates of detritus, or marine snow, sinking from the waters above. This feeding strategy, unknown in any other cephalopod (this group of animals includes squid and octopods), allows vampire squid to thrive in the oxygen minimum zone where there are few predators but marine detritus is abundant.

The vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis) lives in the deep ocean, home to the largest ecosystems on our planet. A "living fossil," this animal has remained relatively unchanged for hundreds of millions of years. The deep ocean contains what may be the greatest number of animal species, the greatest biomass, and the greatest number of individual organisms in the living world. Humans have explored the deep ocean for about 150 years, and most of what is known is based on studies of the deep seafloor. In contrast, the water column above the deep seabed comprises more than 90% of the living space, yet less than 1% of this biome has been explored.



Back to cruise homepage

 Logbook

Day 6 Day 6
October 27
Back in our element


Day 5 Day 5
October 26, 2012
Monterey Bay Aquarium at sea


Day 4 Day 4
October 25, 2012
Two experiments


Day 3 Day 3
October 24, 2012
Some amazing organisms


Day 2 Day 2
October 23, 2012
Squid sightings


day one Day 1
October 22, 2012
A great start


 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.

Midwater respirometry system (MRS)

The MRS conducts oxygen consumption rate measurements in situ gauging the metabolism of animals without subjecting them to the stresses of transport to the surface. The MRS has been modified to operate in deeper water with an expanded capacity, enabling respiration studies on animals that live deeper than 1,250 meters.

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.

CTDO

The CTDO is mounted on the ROV and takes in situ measurements of environmental parameters such as conductivity, temperature, depth, and oxygen concentration.

High-frequency suction sampler

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

 Research Team

bruce robison Bruce Robison
Senior Scientist, MBARI

Bruce Robison's research is focused on the biology and ecology of deep-sea animals, particularly those that inhabit the oceanic water column. He pioneered the use of undersea vehicles for these studies, leading the first team of scientists trained as research submersible pilots. At MBARI, his research group has focused on the development of remotely operated vehicles as platforms for deep-sea science.

kim reisenbichler Kim Reisenbichler
Senior Research Technician, MBARI

Kim's general area of interest is the study of midwater and deep-sea animals. He has developed many tools and techniques to observe, manipulate, and collect these organisms, and to maintain the animals in the lab.

rob sherlock Rob Sherlock
Senior Research Technician, MBARI

Rob is interested in the ecology of midwater invertebrates. He has worked in the Robison lab and been involved with the Midwater Time Series since he came to MBARI in 1996, identifying and quantifying mesopelagic animals and the changes in that community over time and depth and relative to other physical factors.

George Matsumoto George Matsumoto
Education Research Specialist, MBARI

George works in the fields of research and education. As an education specialist, George is involved in several different projects including coordinating MBARI's summer internship program and seminar series and fostering links between MBARI and other partners. As a researcher, George is interested in the ecology of a wide variety of open-ocean and deep-sea gelatinous organisms, as well as the functional morphology, natural history, and behavior of pelagic and benthic organisms.

kris walz Kris Walz
Research Assistant, MBARI

Kris works with the midwater ecology group, analyzing ROV video transects between 50 and 1,000 meters in depth to identify biological organisms from all taxonomic levels, most of which spend their entire lives in the oceanic water column. Kris started working at MBARI in 1996 after finishing her master's degree at University of California, Santa Cruz. She's looking forward to returning to sea this month to collect video transects and search for deep-sea lobster larvae from the family Polychelidae.

henk-jan hoving Henk-Jan Hoving
Postdoctoral Fellow, MBARI

Henk-Jan is a postdoc in the midwater ecology group of Bruce Robison, investigating the life history strategies of pelagic cephalopods. Cephalopods have one reproductive cycle after which they die. Henk-Jan is interested in how long deep-sea cephalopods live, and how different species shape their reproductive strategies to optimize their single reproductive event.

Nancy Burnett
David and Lucile Packard Foundation


Bret Grasse
Monterey Bay Aquarium

Bret is an aquarist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium where his job is to highlight and display a wide variety of marine organisms by providing the best possible conditions for each individual in captivity. Bret specializes in tropical systems and cephalopods.

Alicia Bitondo
Monterey Bay Aquarium

Alicia is an aquarist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where she specializes in the care and display of cephalopods and jellies. She is also a graduate student at Moss Landing Marine Labs, where she is focusing on ontogenetic changes in the ecology and morphology of midwater cephalopods.

Paul Clarkson
Monterey Bay Aquarium

Paul is a curator of Husbandry Operations at the Monterey Bay Aquarium where he manages husbandry staff and live exhibits. He is currently part of the team developing the aquarium's next temporary gallery that will focus solely on cephalopods. With support from MBARI cruises in 2012 and 2013, this team will attempt to keep midwater cephalopods alive and on public exhibit for the first time.

Chris Payne
Monterey Bay Aquarium

Chris has been an aquarist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium for two years now. His focus is mainly on the husbandry and rearing of syngnathids—the family of fish that includes seahorses, pipefishes, and leafy and weedy sea dragons—though he also works with jellyfish and cephalopods.