Midwater Ecology Group

Bruce H. Robison, Principal Investigator


Between the surface of the sea and the ocean floor lies avast fluid universe, Earth’s least-known environment.

The high operational capabilities of MBARI’s ROVs, Ventana and Tiburon, with their sophisticated cameras, samplers, and sensors, has afforded investigators the opportunity to spend thousands of hours surveying and describing the deep waters of the ocean. The Institute’s programs to observe and survey these little-known life forms in their native habitat, and to collect living specimens for laboratory studies, are the most extensive such efforts to date.

The reward of regular investigations of midwater ecology with an ROV is a radically new perspective on the deep sea. Many of MBARI’s most stunning discoveries have come from the time-series data of midwater ROV surveys.

Midwater image gallery

Deep sea squids and octopuses

Stephanie Bush is working with the Monterey Bay Aquarium on their exhibit “Tentacles: The Lives of Octopuses, Cuttlefishes, and Squid”, that opened in April 2014.

Food web dynamics

The goal of the food web research is to further describe the complex structure and functioning of the deep sea food web off Central California, with a primary focus on the role of understudied midwater animals.
Eusergestes similis

Respiration studies

The oxygen content of the entire world ocean is falling. To investigate the consequences of this largescale change, MBARI scientists are exploring a characteristic attribute of the oceanic water column in Monterey Bay called the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ).

Midwater time series

MBARI’s midwater time series provides specific data to investigate the natural variability of oceanic communities at depths below the mixed layer.




Upper-ocean systems
Biological oceanography
Biological oceanography research
Publication—Global modes of sea surface temperature
Chemical sensors
Chemical data
Land/Ocean Biogeochemical Observatory in Elkhorn Slough
Listing of floats
SOCCOM float visualization
Periodic table of elements in the ocean
Biogeochemical-Argo Report
Profiling float
Marine microbes
Population dynamics of phytoplankton
Microbial predators
Microbe-algae interactions
Targeted metagenomics
In the news
Upcoming events and lab news
Past talks and presentations
Join the lab
Molecular ecology
Molecular systematics
SIMZ Project
Bone-eating worms
Gene flow and dispersal
Molecular-ecology expeditions
Interdisciplinary field experiments
Genomic sensors
Ocean observing system
Midwater research
Midwater ecology
Deep-sea squids and octopuses
Food web dynamics
Midwater time series
Respiration studies
Zooplankton biodiversity
Seafloor processes
Biology and ecology
Effects of humans
Ocean acidification, warming, deoxygenation
Lost shipping container study
Effects of upwelling
Faunal patterns
Past research
Technology development
High-CO2 / low-pH ocean
Benthic respirometer system
Climate change in extreme environments
Monitoring instrumentation suite
Sargasso Sea research
Antarctic research
Long-term time series
Geological changes
Arctic Shelf Edge
Continental Margins and Canyon Dynamics
Coordinated Canyon Experiment
Monterey Canyon: Stunning deep-sea topography revealed
Ocean chemistry of greenhouse gases
Emerging science of a high CO2/low pH ocean
Submarine volcanoes
Mid-ocean ridges
Magmatic processes
Volcanic processes
Explosive eruptions
Hydrothermal systems
Back arc spreading ridges
Near-ridge seamounts
Continental margin seamounts
Non-hot-spot linear chains
Eclectic seamounts topics
Margin processes
Hydrates and seeps
California borderland
Hot spot research
Hot-spot plumes
Magmatic processes
Volcanic processes
Explosive eruptions
Volcanic hazards
Hydrothermal systems
Flexural arch
Coral reefs
ReefGrow software
Eclectic topics
Submarine volcanism cruises
Volcanoes resources
Areas of study
Microscopic biology research
Open ocean biology research
Seafloor biology research
Automated chemical sensors
Methane in the seafloor
Volcanoes and seamounts
Hydrothermal vents
Methane in the seafloor
Submarine canyons
Earthquakes and landslides
Ocean acidification
Physical oceanography and climate change
Ocean circulation and algal blooms
Ocean cycles and climate change
Research publications