Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
2013 midwater ecology cruise

Midwater Ecology Fall 2013
Chief Scientist - Bruce Robison

The midwater ecology group is documenting the effects of declining oxygen concentrations on midwater communities, and has spent thousands of hours surveying and describing the deep waters of the ocean. On this week-long research cruise, the midwater ecology research team, headed by Dr. Bruce Robison, will be examining the physiological characteristics of midwater animals relative to the expanding oxygen minimum zone.

Learn more

day 7 Day 7 — Last day
November 13, 2013

We have had an amazingly productive cruise. On day one, we assembled a long list of target species and we managed to check almost every single species off our list. Read more

day 6 Day 6 — Stayin' alive!
November 12, 2013

On this expedition, Stephanie Bush is working with cephalopods. Stephanie is a postdoctoral fellow at MBARI working with the Monterey Bay Aquarium husbandry staff in preparation of a cephalopod exhibit set to open in April 2014. Read more

day 5 Day 5 — What's for dinner?
November 11, 2013

Today we spent many hours looking at not much more than marine snow, but we were rewarded for our patience. We witnessed feeding interactions of deep-sea animals, including a squid attacking an owlfish. Read more

day 4 Day 4 — On the hunt for deep-living animals.
November 10, 2013

Today we had another deep dive, reaching 2,000 meters (6,561 feet), searching for deep-living animals that we rarely get a chance to see. We also had the chance to collect some of our target animals, like Octopoteuthis deletron. Read more

day 3 Day 3 — Deep midwater respirometry system (MRS) deployment
November 9, 2013

The rare Stygiomedusa—an animal that we have only seen eight times with the MBARI remotely operated vehicles. Read more


day 2 Day 2 — Expansion of the oxygen minimum zone
November 8, 2013

In yesterday's blog, I talked about the importance of studying midwater communities and the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ). I also mentioned that as the ocean warms due to climate change, OMZs are expanding. Why is that, you might ask? There are a few key factors in this expansion. Read more

Day 1 - Why study the midwater and what the heck is OMZ?
November 7, 2013

We use this term “midwater” to describe the community of organisms that live in the pelagic zone. The pelagic zone can be described as any water that is neither close to the bottom nor near the shore. Read more


Day 7 Day 7
November 13, 2013
Last day

Day 6 Day 6
November 12, 2013
Stayin' alive!

Day 5 Day 5
November 11, 2013
What's for dinner?

Day 4 Day 4
November 10, 2013
On the hunt for deep-living animals

Day 3 Day 3
November 9, 2013
Deep midwater respirometry system (MRS) deployment

Day 2 Day 2
November 8, 2013
Expansion of the oxygen minimum zone

whale's fluke Day 1
November 7, 2013
Why study the midwater and what the heck is OMZ?


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.

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. 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 and he led 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
Research Specialist, 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.

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. Kris started working at MBARI in 1996 after finishing her master's degree at University of California, Santa Cruz. She's looking forward to going to sea this month to collect video transects and to search for deep-sea lobster larvae from the family Polychelidae.

susan von thun Susan von Thun
Senior Research Technician, MBARI

Susan works in the MBARI video lab, where her primary responsibility is to watch video taken with MBARI's remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and make observations about the organisms, behaviors, equipment, and geological features that she sees. While annotating video, she's become adept at identifying numerous deep-sea organisms, specializing in midwater organisms. She works closely with the midwater ecology group and the bioluminescence lab to expand her knowledge of the fish, jellies, cephalopods, and other groups in the midwater.

Stephanie Bush
Postdoctoral Fellow, MBARI

Stephanie will be collecting squids and octopuses for the Monterey Bay Aquarium's upcoming cephalopod exhibit "Tentacles". She will also continue her research on deep-sea cephalopod behavior and population connectivity in planktonic animals.

goetz Freya Goetz
Museum Technician, Smithsonian Institution

Freya is collecting hyperiid amphipods, polychaetes and sampling of other animals for Karen Osborn at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. The animals collected will be for a variety of projects including the study of amphipod eye structure, animal microbiomes and population genetics.

burford Ben Burford
Research Assistant

Ben's undergraduate degree encompassed terrestrial and aquatic zoology, ecology, and botany. He has become fascinated with and engrossed in the study of deep-sea ecology and behavior. This focus comes after recently completing an internship in the Robison Midwater Ecology Lab at MBARI where he examined the behavior of the deep-sea cephalopod, Chiroteuthis calyx.