Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
MBARI Research
Marine Biology research at MBARI —
Seafloor life

Several of MBARI's marine biologists study animals that live in or on the deep ocean bottom. Marine biologists Ken Smith and Jim Barry use ROVs, underwater cameras, and even a "benthic rover" to study the ecology of animals that live on the vast, muddy expanses of the deep seafloor. These studies are helping us understand how the animals in the deep sea get enough food to survive, and how their communities vary over time and at different depths.

Marine biologist Robert Vrijenhoek focuses his work on the unique animal communities that develop around deep-sea hydrothermal vents and the carcasses of dead whales. Similarly, Barry and other researchers study animals and microbes that live at "cold seeps", where ocean-bottom sediments contain large amounts of methane (natural gas). Barry has also collaborated with geologist David Clague to study deep-water corals and other animals that live on underwater mountains (seamounts).

Several MBARI researchers have also been involved studies of the effects of human activities on seafloor animals. Some of the human activities they have studied include the proposed disposal ("sequestration") of carbon dioxide in the deep sea, ocean dumping, laying of submarine cables, and deep-sea trawling. Barry is also studying how the increasing acidity of the oceans (due to increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) affects marine animals.


The ecology of deep-seafloor animal communities
    MBARI lead researchers in this field:
    Ken Smith (Marine ecologist)
    Jim Barry (Benthic ecologist)

Life at deep-sea hydrothermal vents

Life at "cold seeps"

Whale falls

Seamounts and deep-sea corals

Human impacts on seafloor animals

Last updated: Jun. 10, 2014