Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Press Room
News from MBARI — 2011

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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View MBARI research stories and researcher web pages grouped by topic.
 
Feature Story — 5 December 2011:
Seafloor-mapping robot yields a host of new geologic discoveries

MBARI’s seafloor-mapping robot has had a busy year. It documented a huge lava flow from a three-month-old volcanic eruption off the Oregon coast; it charted mysterious three-kilometer-wide scour marks on the seafloor off Northern California; and it unearthed data that challenge existing theories about one of the largest offshore faults in Central California. MBARI researchers will describe these achievements, and others, in 10 different presentations at this week’s meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
^MBARI’s seafloor-mapping AUV, the D. Allan B. Photo: Phil Sammet © 2010 MBARI

Feature Story — 23 November 2011:
Turning tides on ocean acidification

Marine researchers want to know the effects of an increasingly acidic ocean, and have turned to two tide pool dwellers for some insight. It appears that mussels and purple sea urchins could tell scientists how marine life might adapt to changes in ocean acidity. These two key invertebrates have three things going for them: an intertidal home, a well-understood genome, and a calcium carbonate shell.
^Tidepool with partially submerged pH sensor.

Feature Story — 17 November 2011:
A bountiful harvest of deep-sea acorn worms

Acorn worms have historically been thought of as shallow-water animals that live in burrows in muddy-bottom areas. Only four species were known to live in deep water. However, a recent paper by MBARI collaborator Karen Osborn and her coauthors shows that acorn worms live in the deep ocean environments around the world. The paper introduces at least thirteen new species of these intriguing animals.
^This large, purple acorn worm can grow to over 30 centimeters (1 foot) long, and was videotaped about 3,000 meters below the surface near the Hawaiian islands.

Feature Story — 14 November 2011:
First controlled experiments on ocean acidification in the deep sea

After six years of design and testing, MBARI scientists have a sophisticated new tool for studying the effects of ocean acidification on deep-sea animals. This complex system, the Free-Ocean Carbon Enrichment (FOCE) experiment, is the only experiment in the world that allows researchers to study ocean-acidification impacts on deep-sea animals in their native habitat, using free-flowing seawater.
^This photo shows the center portion of the FOCE system on the seafloor, 900 meters below the surface in Monterey Bay.

Feature Story — 7 November 2011:
MBARI dances to another beat

It's hard to imagine two fields of endeavor that have less in common than ocean research and contemporary dance. This weekend, audiences in Monterey County will be treated to the premiere performance of a program bringing the two fields together, the result of a collaboration between the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and SpectorDance. The moving piece, Ocean, is the brainchild of choreographer and artistic director Fran Spector Atkins.
^Professional dancers Lilly Nguyen, Maria Basile, and Paige Guthormsen perform part of the Ocean program.

Feature Story — 28 October 2011:
Widespread floats provide pieces of the oceanic productivity puzzle

Ken Johnson uses chemistry to study biology. This unusual approach is helping him understand why and how much microscopic algae grow in different parts of the world ocean. Ideally, to get enough data, he needs to sample everywhere, simultaneously and continuously. By enlisting the help of some robotic floats, Johnson is on track to doing just that—and all from the comfort of his office chair.
^Map showing the worldwide system of Argo floats. The floats carrying Ken Johnson's nitrate and oxygen sensors are shown in red.

Map showing location of ALOHA observatory News Brief — 20 September 2011:
Increasing the odds of squid reproduction in the deep sea

Through analysis of video images of the deep-sea squid Octopoteuthis deletron, as well as preserved specimens, researchers discovered that male Octopoteuthis attached their spermatangia (sperm packets) to other males as often as to females of the species. The researchers think that male squid may mate with any member of their species they encounter, which helps these rare animals take advantage of any possible chance to reproduce.

Map showing location of ALOHA observatory News Brief — 15 August 2011:
MBARI engineers provide software for new ALOHA ocean observatory

On June 6, 2011 the ALOHA Cabled Observatory "went live," returning data from instruments on the deep seafloor, about 60 nautical miles north of Oahu, Hawaii, and 4,800 meters below the ocean surface. The torrent of data from these instruments will provide unprecedented information about the deep sea. But first the data must be processed, stored, and archived in a robust shore-side computer system. Fortunately, MBARI engineers have spent over a decade developing computer software and data-management tools that do just this.

Ryan Portner with kids at MBARI open house News Brief — 8 July 2011:
Photos from MBARI's 2011 Open House

On June 25, 2011, MBARI hosted its annual open house, providing the public with a once-a-year opportunity to visit the MBARI campus and talk with scientists, engineers, and marine operations crews about their work. These photos show some of the displays and activities that captivated kids and adults alike.

Feature Story — 29 June 2011:
Unique three-way partnership yields new ocean-monitoring buoy

In late May of 2011, MBARI and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s National Data Buoy Center installed a new ocean-monitoring buoy about 30 miles offshore of Monterey Bay. This collaborative effort, brokered by the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System, could pave the way for similar buoys around the country, providing a wealth of new scientific information.
^The new MBARI / NDBC / CeNCOOS buoy being prepared for deployment Monterey Bay.

Cover of 2010 annual report News Brief — 19 May 2011:
MBARI's 2010 Annual Report — a colorful summary of past, present, and future research

MBARI's 2010 Annual Report is a "must read" for anyone interested in the institute's cutting-edge expeditions, inventions, and scientific discoveries. It includes beautifully illustrated summaries of MBARI's research projects during 2010. Because many of these projects are continuing in 2011, the report provides great background reading on our current work. It also includes an entire chapter on future research efforts.

News Release — 11 May 2011:
Antarctic icebergs help the ocean take up carbon dioxide

The first comprehensive study of the biological effects of Antarctic icebergs shows that they fertilize the Southern Ocean, enhancing the growth of algae that take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and then, through marine food chains, transfer carbon into the deep sea. This process is detailed in 19 new research papers published electronically in a special issue of the journal Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography.
^Icebergs such as this one carry iron-rich sediment from Antarctica out into the Southern Ocean.

Mike Conway and line elevator News Brief — 3 May 2011:
New device helps oceanographers get their instruments back from the depths

Getting heavy objects down to the seafloor is pretty easy—in a best-case scenario, you just drop them over the side of a ship, and hope that they land right side up on the ocean bottom. However, getting those same objects back to the surface can be problematic. MBARI Marine Operations Technician Mike Conway recently developed a new device called a "line elevator" that will make this process easier. One result will be fewer anchors and other heavy objects sitting on the seafloor of Monterey Bay.

Feature Story — 29 April 2011:
Chinese team tests ocean-observatory equipment in Monterey Bay

On April 21, 2011, after four years of planning, MBARI and a team of Chinese scientists and engineers installed a suite of ocean-observing instruments for testing in Monterey Bay. After several months of testing, components of this system will be installed on a long-term ocean observatory planned for the South China Sea.
^Members of the Chinese research team prepare the secondary junction box for their underwater observatory.

Tascam Buoy in New Zealand News Brief — 14 April 2011:
MBARI helps create new ocean-monitoring system in New Zealand

On April 11, 2011, a team of researchers installed a small but high-tech ocean-monitoring buoy in Tasman Bay, at the northern end of New Zealand's South Island.

News Release — 13 April 2011:
Bone-munching worms from the deep sea thrive on fish bones

A new study by scientists at MBARI, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Occidental College is painting a more complete picture of an extraordinary sea worm that was originally found living on the bones of dead whales. It turns out that these worms are not whale-bone or mammal-bone specialists, but can live off fish bones as well.
^This close-up view shows two fish vertebrae with a red Osedax worm growing out of the bone on the right.

Egg-yolk jelly and baby red octopus News Brief — 16 March 2011:
New MBARI video: Let's get together

Biologists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) use remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to observe marine life behavior in the deep sea. These high definition video clips from the ROVs show different ways animals in the deep form groups.

Frame grab from web cam on MARS observatory News Brief — 10 March 2011:
New deep-sea webcam in Monterey Bay

If you’ve ever wondered what deep-sea creatures do all day, MBARI’s seafloor webcam has an answer or two. Animated snapshots, taken every two minutes over the last hour, provide glimpses into the everyday lives of deep-sea fishes, anemones, and sea pens.

News Release — 7 March 2011:
MBARI teams with Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary to study effects of shipping containers lost at sea.

Each year, an estimated 10,000 shipping containers fall off container ships at sea. No one knows what happens to these containers once they reach the deep seafloor. From March 8 to March 10, 2011, a team of researchers from MBARI and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary will use a robotic submarine to study the biological impacts of a shipping container resting on the seafloor about 20 kilometers outside of Monterey Bay.
^In June 2004, MBARI researchers discovered this shipping container upside down on the deep seafloor.

Feature Story — 24 February 2011:
Blowing the lid off underwater volcanoes

Nature rarely hands over her secrets without a fight. To complicate matters, sometimes researchers face obstacles that have nothing to do with the vagaries of nature. For David Clague, a geologist at MBARI, what started out as a simple research dive turned into a 12-year quest that overturned a long-held belief about deep-sea volcanoes.
^An underwater eruption in progress on West Mata volcano in the Lau Basin, southwest of American Samoa.

Pandea rubra medusa News Brief — 14 February 2011:
A deep-sea valentine

The velvety red of a drifting jelly, the brick red of a vampire squid...many deep-sea creatures exhibit the colors of Valentine's Day...

MBARI's Facebook page News Brief — 9 February 2011:
Follow MBARI on Facebook

Do you enjoy keeping up on the latest fascinating animal videos, undersea robots, and deep-sea expeditions at MBARI? You can now find out about all of these and more on MBARI's new Facebook page.

Feature Story — 4 February 2011:
Diving into the Sargasso Sea

The Sargasso Sea is an ocean within an ocean, bounded not by land masses but by a vortex of swirling ocean currents—a place where mats of seaweed drift on the high seas and shelter a unique community of open ocean animals. From February 6 to February 26, 2011, a research team from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute will explore this one-of-a-kind habitat.
^The research vessel Lone Ranger will travel from Bermuda to the Bahamas, with six research stops along the way.

News Release — 20 January 2011:
Newly discovered group of algae live in both fresh water and ocean.

A team of biologists has discovered an entirely new group of algae living in a wide variety of marine and freshwater environments. This group of algae, which the researchers dubbed "rappemonads," have DNA that is distinctly different from that of other known algae. Based on their DNA analysis, the researchers believe that they have discovered not just a new species or genus, but a potentially large and novel group of microorganisms.
^A collection of rappemonad cells photographed by a high-powered microscope. Each cell contains at least two chloroplasts (green dots) and a nucleus (blue dots).

Last updated: Jan. 03, 2012