Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Press Room
News from MBARI — 2012

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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Hydrothermal vents in the Gulf of California News Brief — 30 November 2012:
MBARI research presentations at the 2012 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union

Researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) will present 21 different talks and posters at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco during the week of December 3 to 7, 2012. This page highlights a few of these presentations.

Close-up view of harp sponge News Brief — 31 October 2012:
Scientists discover extraordinary new carnivorous sponge

Ten thousand feet below the ocean's surface, the seafloor is a dark, desolate, and dangerous place where even the most benign-looking creatures can be deadly predators. Recently, a team of scientists discovered an unlikely new carnivorous species— the harp sponge (Chondrocladia lyra).

News Release — 26 September 2012:
MBARI researchers discover what vampire squids eat (it's not what you think)

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.
^This close up view shows a vampire squid using its arms to scrape food off of one of its filaments.

Peter Brewer with Nobel Prize certificate News Brief — 25 September 2012:
MBARI researchers play key roles in international ocean-acidification meeting

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.

Feature Story — 21 September 2012:
Expedition to study methane gas bubbling out of the Arctic seafloor

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 image shows a small part of the continental slope in the Beaufort Sea, along with three undersea mounds where methane is believed to be bubbling out of the seafloor.

Feature Story — 17 September 2012:
Tracking drifting algal blooms and the nutrients that keep them going

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."
^Brett Hobson and Thomas Hoover discuss the planned tracks for MBARI's long-range AUVs during the September 2012 CANON experiment.

Feature Story — 23 August 2012:
First live observations of a rare deep-sea anglerfish

"One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish"—with a bulbous body and spiky scales, a shaggy lure dangling from its head, and foot-like fins that it uses to "walk" along the seafloor, the deep-sea anglerfish Chaunacops coloratus looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. In a recent paper, MBARI researcher Lonny Lundsten and his coauthors describe the first observations of these rare fish in their natural, deep-sea habitat.
^MBARI researchers videotaped the little anglerfish Chaunacops coloratus on several seamounts off the Central California coast.

Slide show — 25 July 2012:
2012 MBARI Open House: 25th anniversary brings out record crowds

On July 21, 2012, MBARI hosted an open house, providing the public with a once-a-year opportunity to visit their Moss Landing, California, campus and talk with scientists, engineers, and marine operations crews about their work. This year also marks MBARI's 25th anniversary, and special events like the christening of MBARI's newest research vessel, R/V Rachel Carson, contributed to the biggest turnout ever for this annual event.
^A young girl looks through a microscope at beach sand during MBARI's 2012 open house.

Feature Story — 19 July 2012:
MBARI researchers help design first field experiment to test the effects of ocean acidification on coral reefs

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.
^This photo shows part of the cpFOCE experiment for studying ocean acidification at Heron Island, Australia.

Feature Story — 25 June 2012:
MBARI researchers create the most detailed map ever of an underwater lava flow

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.
^Map showing part of the 2011 lava flow at Axial Seamount. Thicker parts of the flow are shown in yellow and orange.

Feature Story — 11 May 2012:
Harnessing the awesome power of the ocean waves

MBARI engineer Andy Hamilton looks out his office window in Moss Landing and points at the waves crashing on the beach below. “Pretty impressive, aren’t they? You’d think there’d be a way to make use of all that energy.” Since 2009, Hamilton has led a team of engineers trying to do just that. Their goal is not to replace the hulking power plant that overlooks Moss Landing Harbor, but to provide a more generous supply of electricity for oceanographic instruments in Monterey Bay.
^MBARI's power buoy floats in Monterey Bay, just a few miles offshore of the Moss Landing power plant.

auv map of hydrothermal chimney News Brief — 11 May 2012:
MBARI discovers new deep-sea hydrothermal vents using sonar-mapping robot

During a recent expedition to the Gulf of California, MBARI geologists explored some of the strangest environments in the deep sea--fields of hydrothermal vents. Adding to their excitement was the fact that these hydrothermal vent fields had only been discovered a few days previously... by a robot.

ESP deployment in New Zealand News Brief — 9 May 2012:
Environmental sample processors used to monitor water quality in New Zealand and the Gulf of Maine

With its ability to detect ocean events ranging from sewage spills to harmful algal blooms, MBARI's Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) has immense potential for monitoring ocean water quality.

Feature Story — 1 May 2012:
Breathing underwater: MBARI device measures the respiration of deep-sea animals

Mountain climbers know that changes in temperature and pressure can affect their energy level and their ability to breathe. Animals that live in the deep sea face similar challenges when scientists bring them to the surface for study. To address this problem, MBARI researchers have developed a new instrument that allows them to study the breathing of deep-sea animals without removing the animals from their environment.
^Senior Research Technician Kim Reisenbichler describes the features of the midwater respirometer.

Feature Story — 16 March 2012:
MBARI-developed PUCK protocol adopted by international standards group

Adding new instruments to an oceanographic mooring or underwater observatory can be a difficult and time-consuming process. To simplify this process, MBARI engineers developed a communication protocol called PUCK, which allows a host computer to recognize an instrument and begin accepting data from it immediately, in much the same way that a personal computer recognizes when a camera or other device is attached to one of its USB ports. In early 2012, the PUCK team was rewarded for its efforts when an international standards organization known as the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) approved the PUCK protocol as a new standard.
^PUCK-enabled instruments helped simplify the setup of this deep-sea monitoring system 3,500 meters (11,500 feet) below the ocean surface.

Feature Story — 9 March 2012:
Robotic duo pinpoints plankton in Monterey Bay

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. A recent paper describes how scientists at MBARI employed a pair of high-tech robots to detect these elusive, minute creatures.
^A recent research paper describes in detail where copepods and other tiny animals congregate in Monterey Bay.

Dancers in Ocean program News Brief — 16 February 2012:
Ocean dance program flows out into the community

The evocative dance media piece Ocean, a collaboration between MBARI and the Monterey Bay-area dance company SpectorDance, is venturing into new waters this year.

Screen from winning jellies video News Brief — 6 February 2012:
MBARI video wins international award

MBARI marine biologist Steve Haddock and research technician Susan von Thun's video, "There’s No Such Thing as a Jellyfish," recently won honorable mention in the National Science Foundation's 2011 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge.

Feature Story — 5 February 2012:
MBARI researchers return to the Gulf of California

Luminous jellies and mysterious squid that inhabit a world of almost no light or oxygen; undersea volcanoes, hydrothermal vents, and earthquake faults; layers of natural gas frozen into an ice-like solid in the seafloor. All these can be found in the depths of the Gulf of California. Following up on tantalizing discoveries made during a 2003 trip to the gulf, MBARI researchers will be returning to the little-explored region in February 2012 for a three-month expedition.
^MBARI's flagship research vessel Western Flyer will explore the depths of the Gulf of California from February to May 2012.

Researchers collect Sargassum weed News Brief — 30 January 2012:
MBARI researchers sail the Sargasso Sea

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.

Feature Story — 17 January 2012:
A farewell tribute to the research vessel Point Lobos

For over 20 years, the Point Lobos has been MBARI's workhorse research vessel, ferrying the remotely operated vehicle Ventana out of Moss Landing Harbor several times a week. During a remarkable 3,697 cruises, the Point Lobos helped researchers record thousands of hours of video, identify dozens of strange and unusual animals, and deploy hundreds of instruments in the depths of Monterey Bay. On December 1, 2011, the Point Lobos completed its final research cruise.
^Following its last research cruise, the research vessel Point Lobos returned to Moss Landing Harbor at sunset.

Last updated: Jan. 18, 2013