Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Press Room
News from MBARI — 2014

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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Feature Story — 5 November 2014:
Researchers find wreck of sunken barge in Monterey Canyon

During a recent expedition to map earthquake faults in Monterey Bay, MBARI researchers discovered the wreck of a barge on the muddy seafloor. The barge Umpqua II was about 1,700 meters (one mile) below the ocean surface. The wreck may prove useful to researchers studying the long-term effects of the deep sea on man-made objects, as well as the effects of these objects on the marine environment.
^This image shows the stern of the barge Umpqua II almost 1,700 meters below the sea surface.

Cover of Ocean Acidification report News Brief — 8 October 2014:
MBARI scientist contributes to international ocean-acidification report.

The latest and most important scientific findings about ocean acidification have been compiled into a single, cohesive publication, co-authored by a Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute scientist. Senior Scientist James Barry is a lead author of the 100-page report.
^The cover of a new report on ocean acidification titled, "An updated synthesis of the impacts of ocean acidification on marine biodiversity."

Feature Story — 1 October 2014:
New database provides vast trove of genetic information on tiny single-celled organisms in the ocean

Marine microbiologists typically use large databases to compare the genetic material of one microbe to that of others. Unfortunately, existing databases are woefully incomplete when it comes to microbes in the ocean. To help address this problem, MBARI microbiologist Alexandra Worden recently helped compile a groundbreaking database that provides a wealth of data on an immense, but little-studied group of marine microbes—the “microbial eukaryotes.
^This pie chart shows the wide variety of dinoflagellates (a common marine alga) that are included in the new MMETSP database.

News Release — 23 September 2014:
Big changes in the Sargasso Sea

Over one thousand miles wide and three thousand miles long, the Sargasso Sea occupies almost two thirds of the North Atlantic Ocean. Within the sea, circling ocean currents accumulate mats of Sargassum seaweed that shelter a surprising variety of fishes, snails, crabs, and other small animals. A recent paper by MBARI researcher Crissy Huffard and others shows that in 2011 and 2012 this animal community was much less diverse than it was in the early 1970s, when the last detailed studies were completed in this region.
^Small rafts of Sargassum seaweed are a common sight in the Sargasso Sea.

Feature Story — 15 September 2014:
Chemical sensors built at MBARI to provide unprecedented view of Southern Ocean

Ocean researchers are on the verge of gaining new insights about the changing Southern Ocean with help from sensors developed by a research team at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). These sensors will be implemented in the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling (SOCCOM) program, which just received a $21 million grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation.
^A profiling float sends its data back to shore after rising to the surface in the Southern Ocean.

Feature Story — 11 September 2014:
MBARI hosts Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE competition

Carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by humans is causing the oceans to become more acidic. Unfortunately, oceanographers lack instruments can measure the acidity (pH) of the ocean precisely and continuously for long periods of time. The Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE is a global competition to design robust pH sensors that can accurately and affordably measure ocean acidification. The first two testing phases of the competition are being held at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) from September to December of 2014.
^Members of Team HpHS from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) prepare their pH sensor for the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE competition in MBARI's seawater lab.

News Release — 30 August 2014:
Deep-sea octopus broods eggs for over four years—longer than any known animal

Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) have observed a deep-sea octopus brooding its eggs for four and one half years—longer than any other known animal. Throughout this time, the female kept the eggs clean and guarded them from predators. This amazing feat represents an evolutionary balancing act between the benefits to the young octopuses of having plenty of time to develop within their eggs, and their mother’s ability to survive for years with little or no food.
^This octopus spent four and one half years brooding her eggs on a ledge near the bottom of Monterey Canyon, about 1,400 meters (4,600 feet) below the ocean surface.

Assorted cephalopods News Brief — 24 June 2014:
Celebrating cephalopods

Cephalopods—squids, octopuses, and their relatives—are some of the most beautiful and intriguing animals in the ocean. During the week of June 23-27, 2014, MBARI, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Science Friday teamed up to present a wonderful array of videos and still images of these creatures.
^This montage (not to scale) shows some of the beautiful and fascinating cephalopods that MBARI researchers see when they explore the waters of Monterey Bay.

News Release — 9 June 2014:
Dream team of scientists and aquarists gives public first view of a live vampire squid and other deep-sea cephalopods

From the vampire squid to the flapjack octopus, deep-sea cephalopods come in an amazing variety of shapes and sizes. Yet few humans have seen these animals alive. Since April, members of the public have been able to see these animals for the first time, as part of the ongoing Tentacles special exhibition at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. A collaborative effort with the aquarium’s partner institution, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), this exhibit has thrilled both aquarium visitors and MBARI scientists, and is providing new scientific insights into the lives of these mysterious animals.
^Postdoctoral fellow Stephanie Bush cares for animals behind the scenes at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Data from Gulper AUV News Brief — 21 May 2014:
ECOHAB Spring 2014—Preliminary Observations

It’s now late May and the spring 2014 ECOHAB field experiment is winding down. Researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) are still conducting occasional surveys of the San Pedro Bay, but the rest of the instruments have been recovered. Now the ECOHAB researchers are busy analyzing all the data they collected using their menagerie of undersea instruments.
^Data from MBARI's Gulper AUV.

News Release — 7 May 2014:
First-ever study describes deep-sea animal communities on and around a sunken shipping container

Thousands of shipping containers are lost from cargo vessels each year. Many of these containers eventually sink to the deep seafloor. In 2004, scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) discovered a lost shipping container almost 1,300 meters (4,200 feet) below the surface of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. In the first-ever survey of its kind, researchers from MBARI and the sanctuary recently described how deep-sea animal communities on and around the container differed from those in surrounding areas.
^After seven years on the deep seafloor, this sunken shipping container had been colonized by a variety of deep-sea animals.

News Release — 14 April 2014:
Researchers describe four new species of “killer sponges” from the deep sea

Killer sponges sound like creatures from a B-grade horror movie. In fact, they thrive in the lightless depths of the deep sea. Scientists first discovered that some sponges are carnivorous about 20 years ago. Since then only seven carnivorous species have been found in all of the northeastern Pacific. A new paper authored by MBARI marine biologist Lonny Lundsten and two Canadian researchers describes four new species of carnivorous sponges living on the deep seafloor, from the Pacific Northwest to Baja California.
^A large group of Asbestopluma monticola sponges grow on top of a dead sponge on Davidson Seamount, off the Central California coast.

News Release — 9 April 2014:
Sunken logs create new worlds for seafloor animals

When it comes to food, most of the deep sea is a desert. In this food-poor environment, even bits of dead wood, waterlogged enough to sink, can support thriving communities of specialized animals. A new paper by biologists at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) shows that wood-boring clams serve as “ecosystem engineers,” making the organic matter in the wood available to other animals that colonize wood falls in the deep waters of Monterey Canyon.
^This photo shows one of 36 bundles of acacia wood that sat on the deep seafloor for five years as part of a long-term wood-fall experiment.

Feature Story — 9 April 2014:
Study of harmful algal blooms builds on year-to-year experience

In late March 2014, like stealthy electronic sharks, two underwater gliders began cruising the ocean in and around San Pedro Bay, off Southern California. But instead of looking for a meal of fish or sea lions, these robotic vehicles were looking for signs of microscopic algae. These gliders are just the first of a small menagerie of instruments that scientists will be placing in the ocean over the next month to track harmful algal blooms as part of this year’s spring ECOHAB (Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms) experiment.
^This satellite image shows the temperature of the ocean surface in and around San Pedro Bay on April 2, 2014. The purple and blue areas have colder water, possibly due to "upwelling" of cold water near the north end of the bay.

Poster for Oceans 180 competition News Brief — 15 January 2014:
Three MBARI videos make the top ten in NSF-funded video competition

Scientists are increasingly using video to communicate their research to the public. Last fall, the inaugural Ocean 180 Video Challenge highlighted this task by asking scientists to submit 180-second videos to be judged by middle-school students worldwide. This week, three MBARI videos were announced as finalists in this competition.
^Poster for Oceans 180 competition.

Last updated: Nov. 25, 2014