Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
2013 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, 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 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 helps 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 and cephalopods.

Related Links

Video

MBARI researchers Bruce Robison and Kim Reisenbichler used video taken by unmanned, undersea robots called remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to study barreleye fish in the deep waters just offshore of Central California. At depths of 600 to 800 meters (2,000 to 2,600 feet) below the surface, the ROV cameras typically showed these fish hanging motionless in the water, their eyes glowing a vivid green in the ROV's bright lights. The ROV video also revealed a previously undescribed feature of these fish--its eyes are surrounded by a transparent, fluid-filled shield that covers the top of the fish's head.

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 7 Day 7 - Patience and the money shot
March 28, 2013
How do we define a species? And how can we tell which individuals belong to a given species? Those may seem like simple questions, but in fact, sometimes they are not.


Day 6 Day 6 - Finally, a vampire squid (or two)!
March 27, 2013
For those of you who have been following the midwater lab’s blogs over the last couple of years, you know that one of our target animals is the vampire squid, Vampyroteuthis infernalis.


Day 5 Day 5 - "Let's descend fast to the bottom – wait, no STOP!!!!"
March 26, 2013
MBARI has some great pilots - we certainly put them to the test today with: "Let's go down fast... Wait.... Stop...Okay, keep going...Wait... "


Day 4 Day 4 - Collecting Octopoteuthis deletron.
March 25, 2013
Today we collected two Octopoteuthis deletron.


Day 3 Day 3 - Here's looking at you!
March 24, 2013
It was a great day today as we filled up the MRS and made some collections.


Day 2 Day 2 - Cephalopod Day
March 23, 2013
Cephalopods! The ROV Doc Ricketts got into the water today where we completed our midwater transects and found some animals.


day one Day 1 - Setting Sail
March 22, 2013
Alicia Bitondo sorting through the trawl specimens for squid. The wind was high enough to keep us from collecting with the ROV, but not with the trawl net!


 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, 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.


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 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
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.

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
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.

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.

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 where she is focusing on the developmental changes in the ecology and morphology of midwater cephalopods.

Kat Bolstad
Auckland University of Technology

Kat is a lecturer in the Earth & Oceanic Sciences Research Institute at AUT (New Zealand), where she leads a cephalopod research group, focusing largely on systematics of deep-water Pacific species. She is also interested in ecology of and vision in deep-water squids, and is a science moderator on the cephalopod enthusiast website www.tonmo.com.

Stephanie Bush
Postdoctoral Fellow, Smithsonian Institution

Stephanie is currently working in the lab of Karen Osborn at the National Museum of Natural History. She is broadly interested in marine organismal ecology, and her current research explores the connectivity between populations of planktonic animals and how it relates to speciation and biodiversity in the open ocean. During this expedition, she will be collecting pteropods, a group of midwater snails with reduced or absent shells and a pair of wings that propel them through the water column.

Chris Payne
Monterey Bay Aquarium

Chris has been an aquarist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium for two years. 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.