Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Press Room
News from MBARI — 2009

This page summarizes recent discoveries, achievements, publications, and events at MBARI. Some of these are documented in news releases or full-length feature stories. Others are simply short news briefs that appeared on the MBARI home page.

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News Release — 10 November 2009:
A motley collection of boneworms

It sounds like a classic horror story—eyeless, mouthless worms lurk in the dark, settling onto dead animals and sending out green "roots" to devour their bones. In fact, such "boneworms" do exist in the deep sea. After planting several dead whales on the seafloor, a team of biologists recently announced that as many as 15 different species of boneworms may live in Monterey Bay alone.
^Most female boneworms have long, graceful "palps" that wave in the ocean currents.

News Release — 4 November 2009:
Christopher Scholin appointed MBARI President and CEO

Molecular biologist Christopher Scholin has been appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, the institute’s Board of Directors announced on November 3, 2009. Scholin, who most recently served three years as the institute’s Science Chair, replaces Marcia McNutt, who is leaving MBARI to become Director of the United States Geological Survey.
^Christopher Scholin was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

Gersemia juliepackardae coral News Brief — 3 November 2009:
Marine biologists name new deep-water coral after Julie Packard.

During the November 3 meeting of MBARI's board of Directors, board member Julie Packard was presented with a plaque containing photos of a new species of deep-sea coral that was recently named after her.
^The Gersemia juliepackardae coral lives on rocky deep-sea outcrops from about 500 to 2,000 meters below the surface.

News Release — 2 November 2009:
Deep-sea ecosystems affected by climate change

The vast muddy expanses of the abyssal plains occupy about 60 percent of the Earth's surface and are important in global carbon cycling. Based on long-term studies of two such areas, a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) shows that animal communities on the abyssal seafloor are affected in a variety of ways by climate change.
^A deep-sea urchin crawls across the muddy seafloor at Station M.

News Release — 22 October 2009:
MBARI President and CEO Marcia McNutt to lead U.S. Geological Survey

On October 21, 2009 Marcia McNutt was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as director of the United States Geological Survey. In accepting the directorship, McNutt is leaving her position as president and CEO of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), which she has held since 1997.
^Marcia Mcnutt, the first female director of the United States Geological Survey.

News Release — 9 September 2009:
New robot travels across the seafloor to monitor the impact of climate change on deep-sea ecosystems

Like the robotic rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which wheeled tirelessly across the dusty surface of Mars, a new robot spent most of July traveling across the muddy ocean bottom, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) off the California coast. This robot, the Benthic Rover, has been providing scientists with an entirely new view of life on the deep seafloor.
^The Benthic Rover makes its way across the deep seafloor.

Green bomber worm News Brief — 24 August 2009:
New species of deep-sea worms release glowing "bombs".

Deep-sea worms have evolved an amazing array of body types and survival strategies. The latest addition to this collection of oddities is a group of swimming worms with small oval sacs of fluid hanging from their bodies, just behind their heads. When the worms are disturbed, they release these sacs, which then emit a bright, luminescent green glow.
^Photograph of the "green bomber worm" taken by MBARI scientist Steven Haddock.

Worden talk poster News Brief — 25 July 2009:
Researchers invited to upcoming ASLO session on microbial oceanography.

MBARI researchers Alexandra Worden and Elif Demir, along with Andrew Allen of the J. Craig Venter Institute, are organizing a group of talks titled Ecology and Diversity of Aquatic Protists: Advances and Methodologies for the February 2010 meeting of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography. The researchers are currently soliciting abstracts from scientists who would like to present their work at this session.
^Poster for microbiology session.

Deploying the ESP in the test tank News Brief — 21 July 2009:
MBARI's Environmental sample processor wins R&D Magazine award.

SOn July 20, R&D Magazine announced that MBARI's Environmental Sample Processor (ESP), a robotic undersea molecular biology lab, had been chosen as one of the 100 most technologically significant products introduced onto the marketplace during 2008.
^MBARI researchers lower the Environmental Sample Processor into the test tank at MBARI.

Deploying the ESP News Release — 14 July 2009:
Scientists report first remote, underwater detection of harmful algae, toxins.

Scientists at NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) have successfully conducted the first remote detection of a harmful algal species and its toxin below the ocean’s surface. The achievement was recently reported in the June issue of Oceanography.
^MBARI researchers deploy the Environmental Sample Processor in Monterey Bay.

Marcia McNutt News Brief — 10 July 2009:
MBARI President and CEO Marcia McNutt to be nominated as Director of U.S. Geological Survey.

On July 9, 2009, President Obama announced his intent to nominate MBARI's President and CEO, Marcia McNutt, as Director of the United States Geological Survey and Science Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior.
^MBARI President and CEO Marcia McNutt

Oceanographer John Ryan at sea News Brief — 6 July 2009:
New insights on red tides and harmful algal blooms in Monterey Bay.

For the last five years, MBARI Oceanographer John Ryan has been studying red tides and harmful algal blooms in Monterey Bay. In this multi-media presentation, Ryan talks about some of the exciting discoveries he and his co-researchers have made.
^MBARI oceanographer John Ryan working on the research vessel Zephyr

Cover of NOEP National Report News Brief — 8 June 2009:
New report highlights role of coastal areas in the American economy

A new report by the National Ocean Economics Program (NOEP) highlights the enormous overall value of our nation’s coastal areas and the critical role the oceans play in America’s economic health and well being. The report also shows that coastal areas, which have been hit hard by the recession, also face future risks due to climate change, ocean acidification, and sea-level rise.
^The NOEP report provides a ground-breaking perspective on the value of the oceans to our national economy.

Cover of 2008 Annual Report News Brief — 26 May 2009:
MBARI 2008 Annual Report highlights cabled observatory, biodiversity, CO2 studies

The design, development, construction, and successful operation of the Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS) cabled observatory is highlighted in the MBARI 2008 Annual Report. (Full report as PDF.)
^A photo of the trawl-resistant frame for the MARS observatory graces the cover of the 2008 Annual Report.

News Brief — 13 May 2009:
Scientists urge world leaders to respond cooperatively to
Pacific Ocean threats

More than 400 leading scientists from nearly two-dozen countries have signed a consensus statement on the major threats facing the Pacific Ocean.
^Scientific literature review of coastal and ocean threats, impacts, and solutions.

News Brief — 5 May 2009:
First sea trials for deep-ocean robotic DNA lab

In late April 2009, a team of MBARI researchers tested the world's only deep-sea robotic DNA lab beneath the waters of Monterey Bay.
^The crew of the research vessel Point Lobos carefully lower the deep-ESP over the side of the ship.

News Release — 17 April 2009:
Increasing carbon dioxide and decreasing oxygen in the oceans will make it harder for deep-sea animals to "breathe"

New calculations made by marine chemists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute suggest that low-oxygen "dead zones" in the ocean could expand significantly over the next century. These predictions are based on the fact that, as more and more carbon dioxide dissolves from the atmosphere into the ocean, marine animals will need more oxygen to survive.
^Deep-ocean animals such as this owlfish may suffer as carbon dioxide increases and oxygen concentrations decline in the deep sea

News Release — 9 April 2009:
Genes from tiny marine algae suggest unsuspected avenues for new research

By sequencing the DNA of two tiny marine algae, a team of scientists has opened up a myriad of possibilities for new research in algal physiology, plant biology, and marine ecology.
^This transmission electron microscope image shows a cross section through a single Micromonas alga with its organelles highlighted in different colors.

18 March 2009:
New seafloor observatory provides round-the-clock monitoring of ocean and Earth

In late February, MBARI marine-operations staff connected two new instruments to the MARS ocean observatory in Monterey Bay. One instrument, developed by John Horne at the University of Washington, uses sound to monitor marine life. The second instrument is an ultra-sensitive seismometer sponsored by Barbara Romanowicz at the University of California, Berkeley.
^MBARI's remotely operated vehicle Ventana deploys a data processing system that connects a seafloor seismometer to the MARS observatory.

News Brief — 12 March 2009:
MBARI's new robot submarine completes first research dives

On February 24, 2009, MBARI's new robot submarine, the ROV Doc Ricketts made its first research dive. The new ROV replaces MBARI's ROV Tiburon, which was built by MBARI staff in 1996.
^MBARI ROV pilots and engineers put the Doc Ricketts through its paces in the MBARI test tank before taking it out to sea for its first ocean dive.

News Brief — 27 February 2009:
Researchers combine forces to explain unusual seabird deaths.

A February 23 paper in the Public Library of Science (PLoS ONE) describes how researchers from four different organizations combined their expertise to figure out why over 200 seabirds died in Monterey Bay during November 2007.
^This loon was one of the many seabirds that washed up on the beaches of Monterey Bay in November 2007.

News Release — 23 February 2009:
Researchers solve mystery of deep-sea fish with tubular eyes and transparent head

Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute recently solved the half-century-old mystery of a fish with tubular eyes and a transparent head. A new paper by Bruce Robison and Kim Reisenbichler shows that this fish's unusual eyes can rotate within a transparent shield that covers the fish's head. This allows the barreleye to peer up at potential prey or focus forward to see what it is eating.
^The barreleye (Macropinna microstoma) has extremely light-sensitive eyes that can rotate within a transparent, fluid-filled shield on its head. The fish's tubular eyes are capped by bright green lenses. The two spots above the fish's mouth are olfactory organs called nares, which are analogous to human nostrils.

News Release — 11 February 2009:
Seamounts may serve as refuges for deep-sea animals that struggle to survive elsewhere

Over the last two decades, marine biologists have discovered lush forests of deep-sea corals and sponges growing on seamounts (underwater mountains) offshore of the California coast. It has generally been assumed that many of these animals live only on seamounts, and are found nowhere else. However, two new research papers show that most seamount animals can also be found in other deep-sea areas.
^This photograph shows a dense grouping of sponges that is typical of the animal assemblages on seamounts. Although some of these sponges are new to science, all have been observed at other locations in addition to Davidson Seamount.

News Brief — 3 February 2009:
MBARI helps users of Google Earth explore the oceans.

Armchair explorers can now become virtual Jacques Cousteaus with the latest release of Google Earth. The new version of this popular 3-D mapping program features an Ocean layer, thanks to the addition of data and information from many oceanographic and conservation organizations, including MBARI and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
^The circles in this Google Earth image show "hot spots" in Monterey Bay that allow the public to learn about scientific research and to explore underwater features within the bay.

News Brief — 12 January 2009:
New report describes pressing ocean issues.

In May 2008, over one hundred scientists and decision makers gathered in Monterey to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing the oceans. The key issues, discussions, and proposals for future actions from this conference are summarized in a new report, 2008 Ocean Science Summit Report: Climate Change and Ocean Health.
^The cover of the 2008 Ocean Science Summit report.

Last updated: Jan. 26, 2010