In the 100 years since marine biologists hauled the first vampire squid up from the depths of the sea, perhaps a dozen scientific papers have been published on this mysterious animal, but no one has been able to figure out exactly what it eats. A new paper by MBARI Postdoctoral Fellow Henk-Jan Hoving and Senior Scientist Bruce Robison shows for the first time that the vampire squid uses two thread-like filaments to capture bits of organic debris that sink down from the ocean surface into the deep sea.
Several hundred researchers and decision-makers from around the world are gathering in Monterey this week for the Third International Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World. MBARI researchers have been instrumental in the planning of this conference, and are describing their cutting-edge research in a variety of talks and posters at the meeting.
In the remote, ice-shrouded Beaufort Sea, methane (the main component in natural gas) has been bubbling out of the seafloor for thousands of years. MBARI geologist Charlie Paull and his colleagues at the Geological Survey of Canada are trying to figure out where this gas is coming from, how fast it is bubbling out of the sediments, and how it affects the shape and stability of the seafloor.
This month MBARI researchers are conducting a two-week-long, in-depth oceanographic experiment to track the nutrients that fertilize algal blooms off the coast of Central California. As part of MBARI’s ongoing CANON (Controlled, Agile, and Novel Observing Network) initiative, scientists will be examining how ammonium—a key nutrient for microscopic marine algae—affects what researchers call the ocean’s “biological pump.”
Many experiments have documented the effects of ocean acidification in the laboratory, but few have been performed in the natural environment. A recent article in Scientific Reports describes the first controlled field experiment to test the effects of acidification on coral reefs—a multi-institutional effort that involved several MBARI engineers and was based on pioneering work at MBARI.
Axial seamount, 480 km (300 miles) off the coast of northern Oregon, is one of the best studied underwater volcanoes in the world. Now MBARI researchers have created the world’s most detailed map of an underwater lava flow, showing lava that erupted from Axial Seamount during April 2011. They describe this mapping effort and related geological discoveries in a recent paper in Nature Geoscience.
“As the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) descended into the blue depths above the Alarcón Rise, the control room was abuzz with anticipation,” wrote MBARI geologist Julie Martin in her April 22nd cruise log. “Today we [are] planning to dive on one of the strangest environments in the deep sea: a hydrothermal vent field.”
Tiny animals called zooplankton swarm like insects in the coastal waters of the ocean. They provide dinner for a host of larger animals, ranging from fish to whales. But these microscopic organisms also challenge the scientists who study them because they are constantly drifting with the movement of ocean currents.
On January 30, 2012, a group of researchers led by MBARI marine biologist Ken Smith and engineer Alana Sherman left Bermuda and sailed south into the Sargasso Sea. This is Smith’s third research expedition to this region using the research vessel Lone Ranger, operated by the Schmidt Ocean Institute.