Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Press Room

Behind the scenes - 2012

Links to past and present "Behind-the-scenes" stories:     2014    2013    2012

The Monterey Bay Time Series

Crew on the R/V Rachel Carson deployed the CTD rosette earlier this month. This work is in support of the Monterey Bay Time Series (MBTS) project which has been monitoring the Monterey Bay for 23 years. For this project, they take physical measurements such as temperature and salinity, as well as chemical measurements such as nitrate (a measure of nutrients in the water) and chlorophyll (which is an indicator of plant biomass). They also measure the rate of plant growth using an onboard incubator. The MBTS is very fundamental oceanography, and the mass of data from so many years of measurements is core to helping us understand bigger things, such as climate change. One of the things that MBTS researchers focus on is phytoplankton and how it changes over the seasons. These tiny ocean plants are responsible for removing an awful lot of man-made carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which helps combat the warming effect of climate change.

—December 17, 2012

Conducting midwater transects

On December 10, 2012, the Midwater lab conducted transects and collections using ROV Ventana. Postdoc Henk-Jan Hoving examines a squid in the detritus sampler just before taking it off the vehicle and putting it in the cold room for further observation. They found a female Octopoteuthis deletron, as well as Chiroteuthis calyx, and other squids. Hoving published his findings on reproduction of Octopoteuthis earlier this year. Read more about this research.

—December 10, 2012

Postdoctoral Fellow Holly Bowers

MBARI postdoctoral fellow Holly Bowers and researcher Roman Marin prepare to deploy a plankton net from the R/V Rachel Carson. Holly recently began her postdoc at MBARI. Here is how she describes her planned research "I am collecting samples from around Monterey Bay to look at cryptic genetic diversity in Pseudo-nitzschia species. The goal is to identify key species that we may be missing with current molecular probes, and to ultimately design new probes (or tweak the current ones) that can be implemented onto platforms such as the Environmental Sampling Processor (ESP)." Photo by Mariah Salisbury.

—December 6, 2012

R/V Rachel Carson shakedown cruise

The R/V Rachel Carson steamed out of Moss Landing Harbor on the morning of October 16, 2012 after months of remodeling that transformed the 135-foot freighter into a multi-purpose research vessel. The R/V Rachel Carson is outfitted with equipment for deploying MBARI's remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Ventana, as well as an array of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). Although Tuesday's mission was originally planned as a "shakedown cruise"—a day of sea trials—the ship was pressed into more immediate service recovering MBARI's long-range AUV Daphne.

—October 18, 2012

Antique anchor found in harbor

This anchor was found buried in sediment under an old pier that MBARI recently removed from Moss Landing Harbor. The pier had been there since the 1940s. A naval archaeologist from NOAA's National Marine Sanctuaries group identified it as a "fisherman's anchor" from the late 1800s. That's about the same time the railroad line was built through nearby Elkhorn Slough, which led to increased ship traffic at Moss Landing. Although most of the bigger boats probably used the large offshore wharf, this find suggests that at least some sizable boats must have come into the slough itself through the natural entrance, which at that point was about a mile north of the present harbor entrance. The anchor is now on display outside of MBARI's facilities in Moss Landing.

—September 4, 2012

Chief ROV Pilot Knute Brekke

Meet one of our chief ROV pilots, Knute Brekke. He describes his career. "I started SCUBA diving in Wisconsin at the age of 14 and did my first underwater work at age 17, inspecting boats and docks and doing minor repairs. I started working in the offshore oil industry in 1989 as both a diver and ROV technician. I worked for several offshore contracting companies including Oceaneering International, International Underwater Contractors, International Diving Services, and American Pacific Marine. By 1996 I was working full time as an ROV supervisor so my work as a diver was getting less and less. In 1999 I left the offshore construction industry to come to work for MBARI. I was hired here as an ROV pilot for Ventana and moved over to the Doc Ricketts as chief ROV pilot in 2010. I have a B.S. degree in geology from the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, and an A.S. degree in marine diving technology from Santa Barbara City College."

—August 29, 2012

Electrical Engineer Alana Sherman

Meet one of our engineers, Alana Sherman. Here is how she talks about her work: "I work at MBARI as an electrical engineer. To get to this point I completed a BA in mathematics and then went to graduate school studying Bioengineering. It was during my first year of graduate school that I realized what interested me most was using engineering to solve science problems. My PhD research involved developing an instrument to study insect flight using fruit flies. After completing graduate school I began working at MBARI, and have been here for nine years. I develop scientific instruments and some underwater vehicles, all to further our understanding of the world's oceans. The scientists I work with include ecologists, geologists, chemists, and marine biologists, so there is a very wide range of instruments I am working on. In any given year I am usually working on 4 unique systems, to study very different aspects of the ocean. Some of my projects include: instruments to study the impact of drifting icebergs on the Southern Ocean (, deep sea observatories in the Pacific ocean and Sargasso Sea (, and the Benthic Rover, a autonomous underwater vehicle which takes measurements for 6 months unattended ( The most fun part of my job is going out to sea to test and deploy instruments and vehicles. I am really drawn to the exploration aspect of the work, and because so much of the world's oceans have never been observed, you can go out and see things no one has ever seen."

—August 10, 2012

Postdoctoral Fellow Henk-Jan Hoving

Let's meet Henk-Jan Hoving, postdoc in the Midwater Ecology lab. He is currently on board the research vessel Western Flyer for the midwater expedition and he tells us more about his mission: "During this cruise one of my focuses is the feeding ecology of pelagic cephalopods. Information on feeding will tell us where species fit in the pelagic food web of the Monterey Canyon. Also, a critical part in keeping animals alive in the lab is to know what they feed on. Knowledge on diets will therefore also help us to improve husbandry. We investigate the feeding ecology of pelagic cephalopods via different ways. Prey in the stomach contents are identified, which is often difficult because squid macerate their prey. When visual identification is not possible, DNA sequences are used. Other techniques, such as fatty acids and stable isotopes, will be used to determine the trophic position of different squid and to establish what group of organisms the species generally consumes (e.g. fish or crustacean). Another valuable way to learn more about the diet of pelagic squids is the archived MBARI's ROV footage database. Over the years of MBARI's ROV observations, many squid species have been encountered with food in their arms".

—July 18, 2012

Wave-powered buoy

MBARI engineers deployed a power buoy designed to harness the power of the ocean waves. The buoy is 2.5 meters (8 feet) across and a massive metal plate is hanging in the water below the buoy. While the buoy rises and falls with the waves, the plate, 30 meters (100 feet) down, remains relatively stationary. Between them is a large hydraulic cylinder with a piston inside. As the buoy rises and falls, it pushes and pulls on this piston. This forces hydraulic fluid through a hydraulic motor, which in turn runs an electrical generator.

—June 27, 2012

Last updated: Apr. 04, 2013