Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Midwater Ecology
Monterey Canyon

Between the surface of the sea and the ocean floor lies a vast fluid universe, Earth’s least-known environment.

The high operational capabilities of MBARI's ROVs, Ventana and Tiburon, with their sophisticated cameras, samplers, and sensors, has afforded investigators the opportunity to spend thousands of hours surveying and describing the deep waters of the ocean. The Institute’s programs to observe and survey these little-known life forms in their native habitat, and to collect living specimens for laboratory studies, are the most extensive such efforts to date.

The reward of regular investigations of midwater ecology with an ROV is a radically new perspective on the deep sea. Many of MBARI’s most stunning discoveries have come from the time-series data of midwater ROV surveys.

Heading up this research group is Dr. Bruce Robison, leading the core midwater team of Kim Reisenbichler  and Rob Sherlock. The team currently also includes Graduate Researcher Stephanie Bush. Former students and postdocs, who still collaborate, are: Jessica Silguero, George Matsumoto, Jay Hunt, Kevin Raskoff, Russ Hopcroft, Steve Haddock, Brad Seibel, Jeff Drazen, Crissy Huffard, and Louis Zeidberg.

External collaborators include William and Peggy Hamner (UCLA), Dhugal Lindsay (JAMSTEC), Jenny Purcell (Shannon Point), Edie Widder (ORCA), and Larry Madin (WHOI).  The midwater group's summer interns have been Caren Braby and Brian Schlining in 1997, Magdalena Halt in 1998, Trevor Rivers in 1999, Erin Gontang in 2000, Magdalena Gutowska in 2002, Stephanie Bush in 2003 and 2006, Sarah Skikne in 2004, Joanna Tennant in 2005, Julie Himes in 2007.


Selected publications. Some include electronic links that illustrate the behavior and morphology of midwater animals.

Ink utilization by mesopelagic squid. Marine Biology, 152(3):485-494 (Sept 2007)

Invasive range expansion by the Humboldt squid, Dosidicus gigas, in the eastern North Pacific. 2007. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104(31):12948-12950 (July 31, 2007).

Description and relationships of Chaetopterus pugaporcinus, an unusual pelagic polychaete (Annelida, Chaetopteridae). Biological Bulletin, 212(1): 40-54 (Feb 2007)

Post-spawning egg care by a squid. Nature, 438(7070):929 (Dec 2005)

Giant Larvacean Houses: Rapid Carbon Transport to the Deep Sea Floor. Science, 308 (5728): 1609-1611 (10 June, 2005)

Adaptations for living deep: a new bathypelagic doliolid from the eastern North Pacific. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom (JMBA), 85(3): 595-602 (2005)

Ecological substrate in midwater: Doliolula equus, a new mesopelagic tunicate. JMBA, 85(3): 655-664 (2005)

Deep pelagic biology. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 300:253-272 (2004)

Allometry measurements can determine the size and swimming speeds of juvenile and adult Loligo opalescens (Cephalopoda: Myopsida) squid from in situ video. Journal of Experimental Biology 207: 4195-4203 (2004)

Stellamedusa ventana, a new mesopelagic scyphomedusa from the eastern Pacific representing a new subfamily, the Stellamedusinae. JMBA, 84:37-42 (2004)

Light production by the arm tips of the deep-sea cephalopod Vampyroteuthis infernalis. The Biological Bulletin, 205:102-109 (2003)

Tiburonia granrojo n. sp., a mesopelagic scyphomedusa from the Pacific Ocean representing the type of a new subfamily (Class Scyphozoa, Order Semaeostomeae, Family Ulmaridae, Subfamily Tiburoniinae subfam nov.). Marine Biology, 143:73-77 (2003)

Capture and rearing techniques for gelatinous zooplanktonBiological Bulletin, 204, 68-80 (2003)

Foraging, prey capture, and gut contents of the mesopelagic narcomedusa, Solmissis spp. (Cnidaria, Hydrozoa) Marine Biology, 141: 1099-1107 (2002)

Lampocteis cruentiventer gen. nov., sp. nov.: A new mesopelagic lobate ctenophore (Phylum Ctenophora, Class Tentaculata, Order Lobata, Family Bolinopsidae). Bulletin of Marine Science, 68:299-311 (2001)

The impact of El NiƱo events on populations of mesopelagic hydromedusae. Hydrobiologia, 451:121-129 (2001)

Can coelenterates make coelenterazine? Dietary requirements for luciferin in cnidarian bioluminescence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 98:11148-11151 (2001)

The behaviour of Loligo opalescens (Mollusca: Cephalopoda) as observed by a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). JMBA 80:873-883 (2000)

Life history and energetics of Gonatus onyx (Cephalopoda: Teuthoidea): ontogenetic changes in habitat, behavior, and physiology. Marine Biology, 136:543-552 (2000)

Chemically regulated feeding by a midwater medusa. Limnology and Oceanography, 45:1661-1666 (2000)

Effects of temperature on the development and survival of Nanomia bijuga (Hydrozoa, Siphonophora). Invertebrate Zoology, 119:379-385 (2000)

The coevolution of undersea vehicles and deep-sea research. Marine Technology Society Journal 33:65-73 (2000)

A new mesopelagic larvacean, Mesochordaeus erythrocephalus, sp. nov., from Monterey Bay, with a description of its filtering house. Journal of Plankton Research 21:1923-1937 (1999)

Shape change behavior by mesopelagic animals. Marine and Freshwater Behavior and Physiology, 32:17-25 (1999)

Seasonal abundance of the siphonophore, Nanomia bijuga, in Monterey Bay, Deep-Sea Research 45:1741-1752 (1998)

Light in the Ocean's Midwaters. Scientific American, 273(1):60-64. (1995)

Bioluminescence in the benthopelagic holothurian Enypniastes eximia.Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 72: 463-472 (1992)

In situ observations of giant appendicularians in Monterey Bay. Deep-Sea Research, 39: 1299-1313 (1992)

Oxgen consumption, metabolic enzyme activity, and dietary requirement of two mesopelagic calycophoran siphonophores.

Last updated: Sep. 07, 2011