Behind the Scenes – 2015


A hot time in Monterey Bay

MBARI researchers have been monitoring seawater temperatures at our M1 mooring in the middle of Monterey Bay since 1990.

Covered in anchovies

When remotely operated vehicle Ventana dove near the head of Monterey Canyon yesterday, in the area of intense whale activity, the vehicle was surrounded by the very thing attracting the whales—an incredibly thick school of anchovies.

Return to the USS Macon

On August 18, researchers on board the research vessel Nautilus used the ROVs Hercules and Argus to dive on the wreck of the USS Macon, a rigid-frame dirigible airship that crashed off the Big Sur coast in 1935.

Observing the feeding currents of larvaceans

On July 27, Kakani Katija and collaborators Alana Sherman, Dale Graves, Chad Kecy, and Bruce Robison tested DeepPIV (particle image velocimetry) using MBARI's MiniROV. The DeepPIV instrument consists of a laser and optics that can illuminate "slices" through transparent animals (such as larvaceans) using a single plane of light.

Finding Opisthoteuthis

Last Thursday, MBARI Postdoctoral Fellow Stephanie Bush and her team from the Monterey Bay Aquarium went to sea aboard the R/V Rachel Carson in Monterey Bay. They were on a mission to collect octopuses in the genus Opisthoteuthis to be used for species description and display at the aquarium. These small flapjack octopuses (about eight centimeters across) eluded capture last month, but this time the team was successful. Using the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Ventana, the researchers located and collected five individuals.

Postdoctoral Fellow Kakani Katija at TEDWomen conference

On May 28, MBARI Postdoctoral Fellow Kakani Katija presented a talk at the TEDWomen conference in Monterey about her research studying how marine organisms interact with the fluid world. As a bioengineer, she is interested in the underwater “footprints”, or wakes that organisms leave behind as they move through the water. Kakani uses dyes, lasers, and other technology to make these translucent structures visible and measurable.

Distressed sea lions in Monterey Bay

If you’ve visited beaches in the Monterey Bay area earlier this year, you may have seen young California sea lions stranded on the beaches, weak and emaciated from lack of food. Recently, the Marine Mammal Center has reported that juvenile and sub-adult sea lions have also been stranding on beaches as a result of domoic acid poisoning. Domoic acid is a neurotoxin produced by Pseudo-nitzschia, a phytoplankton that can form toxic algal blooms. Consuming domoic acid can lead to lead to seizures, brain damage, and sometimes death in marine mammals.

SeeStar camera system displayed at Maker Faire

Scientist Steve Haddock, Electrical Engineer Chad Kecy, and Mechanical Engineer François Cazenave introduced the SeeStar camera system at the Bay Area Maker Faire, a large festival held May 16th and 17th to celebrate invention and creativity by showcasing creations that relate to science, engineering, or art.

Western Flyer departs the Gulf of California

The Gulf of California expedition is nearing its end, with one more leg led by Chief Scientist Charlie Paull starting on May 7. The R/V Western Flyer and its crew have been in the Gulf of California since early February and have completed six research cruises, each for a different MBARI science team and their collaborators with different research goals.

Divers remove line caught on Western Flyer

On March 17, MBARI's research vessel Western Flyer returned to the dock in La Paz after a two-week midwater-biology cruise. While the ship was at the dock, researcher Steve Haddock and ROV Pilot Randy Prickett dove underneath the boat to clear a line that had become wrapped around part of the boat. The ROV pilots spotted the offending line during an ROV launch when visibility was particularly good.

Recycled propeller installed at MBARI front entrance

MBARI has a new art piece in front of its main entrance—an old propeller from one of its research vessels, the Rachel Carson. The bronze propeller is five feet across and weighs 1,000 pounds; a crane was required to install it in place. The R/V Rachel Carson originally operated as an oil field supply vessel in the Gulf of Mexico. MBARI purchased the ship in July 2011 and transited it from La Rose, Louisiana, to Alameda, California, for extensive refitting at the shipyard. The propeller was removed during the refit.

Ocean acidification studies in Antarctica

Ocean acidification poses a threat to the life and diversity of marine ecosystems. MBARI scientists and engineers have designed a sophisticated tool for studying the effects of ocean acidification that can be applied to various marine environments, from shallow-water kelp forests to the deep sea.