Since World War II, US nautical charts have shown seven “chemical munitions dumping areas” along the Pacific Coast between San Francisco and the Mexican border. However, little or no information is available about the amount, location, or nature of the materials that were dumped at most of these sites.
About 65 million years ago, an asteroid or comet crashed into a shallow sea near what is now the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. The resulting firestorm and global dust cloud caused the extinction of many land plants and large animals, including most of the dinosaurs.
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.
Many deep-sea animals such as anglerfish use parts of their body as lures to attract prey. Some deep-sea squids may use this strategy as well. In a recent paper, researchers associated with MBARI describe a deep-sea squid that appears to use a different method to lure prey—its tentacle tips flap and flutter as if swimming on their own.
Washington state is one of the nation's most prolific areas for shellfish harvesting and aquaculture. Yet, as in many other areas, Washington's shellfish may cause seafood poisoning when certain types of harmful algae or bacteria become abundant in local waters.
On July 20, MBARI opened its doors to the public, providing visitors with a once-a-year opportunity to talk with scientists, engineers, and marine operations crews about their work.
A unique field experiment being conducted off the coast of Portugal this week combines ocean robotics and marine biology in a complex aquatic dance. Researchers are using a fleet of robotic vehicles to track over a dozen Mola mola (ocean sunfish) as they forage across the coastal ocean.
Surprisingly large amounts of discarded trash end up in the ocean. Plastic bags, aluminum cans, and fishing debris not only clutter our beaches, but accumulate in open-ocean areas such as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch." Now, a paper by researchers at MBARI shows that trash is also accumulating in the deep sea, particularly in Monterey Canyon.
Miles below the ocean surface, diverse ecosystems flourish at hydrothermal vents. Without sunlight, animals live off of bacteria that thrive on chemicals billowing out of the Earth's crust. These strange communities appear entirely detached from life on land.
Killing wildlife and occasionally sickening people, harmful algal blooms can be more than just a nuisance. But predicting these blooms is difficult—even more difficult than predicting the weather—because blooms result from a dynamic interaction between both physical and biological processes.
A surge in jellyfish blooms over the past decade has spawned similar blooms of public fascination with these sea drifters and their apparent saturation of our oceans. Images of fish nets and nuclear-plant intake pipes clogged with gelatinous sacks of tentacles have flared concerns for fisheries and public safety.
The open ocean contains an amazing diversity of extremely tiny organisms called picoplankton. This group includes relatively simple life forms such as marine bacteria, as well as more complicated organisms.