Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
2012 midwater ecology cruise

Day 4: Two experiments
October 25, 2012

Last night we bid adieu to Henk-Jan Hoving, Bret Grasse, and Lisa Uttal, and welcomed Paul Clarkson and Chris Payne, both from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We brought the Western Flyer in towards Moss Landing and launched our rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) to transfer the crew to and from shore.

Henk-Jan Hoving, Bret Grasse, and Lisa Uttal prepare for an at-sea departure from the Western Flyer.

Following the transfer, we moved offshore to our 3,000-meters (9,840-feet) site where another Midwater Respirometry System (MRS) mooring was deployed last year. The goal for today's dive was to launch the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) with the MRS tray and dive down to the mooring. Since this was the first time that we visited the mooring since it was deployed, we flew the ROV to the mooring and took some images of the upper floats and the lower anchor setup. We then filled up the MRS tray and left it on the mooring at 2,700 meters (8,850 feet) for a 24-hour experiment. We were hoping for a 48-hour duration, but winds are predicted to come up by Saturday, so we will come back and pick it up on Friday. We finished the dive by collecting a variety of organisms on the way back up to the surface.

Today we were visited by some humpback whales that appeared to be feeding on the surface.

Two different experiments that have been mentioned in previous posts deserve some more explanation:

The Midwater Respirometry System (MRS) enables us to measure the oxygen consumption rates of midwater animals in order to determine the physiological effects of declining oxygen concentrations in their environment. Oxygen uptake data from the MRS and from laboratory respirometers indicate the oxygen concentrations at which each species shifts from regulation to compensation. In other words, they tell us the critical point at which further decreases in environmental oxygen may cause a species to relocate in order to find enough oxygen for survival. When we couple the critical oxygen concentration levels for each species with the oxygen profiles we measure on each ROV dive, we see correlations that explain the changing vertical distribution patterns of midwater species.

Kim Reisenbichler working on the laboratory respirometry setup on board the Western Flyer.

The automated camera system is deployed from the research vessel and suspended from the surface at a predetermined depth. Henk-Jan has been experimenting with different lighting setups and different types of lures, baits, and attractants. During this cruise, the camera system was deployed with red LED lights, a blue lure, and a bait package on Monday night, and just the lights and the lure on Tuesday night. The results from these deployments are still being analyzed, but we do have an image from an earlier deployment showing Nanomia—a common siphonophore found in the Pacific Ocean.

Nanomia caught with the automated camera system. (There is a bait bag hanging to the left of the siphonophore.)
A brooding midwater squid—Gonatus with her egg sac.

—George Matsumoto

Previous log Next log


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


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.


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.