CANON Spring 2019 Expedition Log

The CANON project employs traditional water-sampling methods, left, as well as autonomous collection methods, right. The MBARI long-range autonomous underwater vehicle (pictured at right), equipped with an Environmental Sample Processor, is an important tool in the CANON project because it allows the collection of more water samples at less expense, and over greater distances, than is feasible with traditional ship-based operations.

MBARI Expedition #465

Expedition goal: By pairing video, acoustic, eDNA, and traditional trawl measurements of biological communities around the Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS) site, our expedition seeks to 1) compare the strengths and weaknesses of these different technologies in order to improve our ability to measure life in the sea and 2) integrate these results to gain a greater understanding of the spatial and temporal variability of vertically migrating populations around MARS.

Expedition dates: May 30 – June 4, 2019

Ship: R/V Western Flyer, R/V Rachel Carson, NOAA R/V Reuben Lasker

Research technology: 3G Environmental Sample Processor long-range autonomous underwater vehicle (LRAUV), acoustic and tracking Wave Glider, bioluminescence LRAUV, Echosounder, i2MAP AUV, ROV Ventana, Saildrone, spray glider

Expedition chief scientist: Francisco Chavez

MBARI researchers and collaborators will use underwater acoustics and video, traditional ship trawls/net tows, and environmental DNA (eDNA) to examine the variability in time and space of the daily vertical migration of copepods, krill, and fish, within Monterey Bay. These animals—called the diel vertical migrators (DVMs)—swim up to the surface each night and back down to depth at dawn as part of their feeding habits in Earth’s largest migration.

Scientists will also compare the ability of these diverse methods to capture information about these ecologically important groups, illustrating how different data types, as well as sampling from autonomous platforms, can give us a fuller picture of the behavior, identity, and variability of these populations. Through acoustic and eDNA data, scientists will also capture the accompanying variability of their predators (marine mammals detected through acoustic and eDNA data) and prey (phytoplankton and microzooplankton through eDNA data).


Monday, June 10, 2019
Postdoctoral Fellow Katie Pitz

We’re back on shore after a successful cruise thanks to everyone’s hard work. The LRAUVs have also all come back in from their deployments around MARS and within the acoustic cone of DEIMOS. Each environmental sample processor (ESP) within an LRAUV can hold 60 cartridges which each contain a filter that we used to sample eDNA. These filters need to be preserved and labeled so we can match them back to the acoustic and environmental data collected when the samples were taken. Then we can clean all the components to make sure they’re ready to be assembled and used again for the next deployment!

These autonomous platforms allow us to collect samples in new ways that complement our shipboard sampling. On this cruise, we were able to collect acoustic, genetic, and bioluminescence data autonomously and video data through ROV Ventana to match with our shipboard CTD and net sampling. It will be exciting to uncover what we’ve learned through these different methods!

Updates from researchers on the R/V Western Flyer:

Monday, June 3, 2019
Jesse Bausell, Ph.D. candidate, University California, Santa Cruz

This particular cruise seeks to expand our understanding of the diurnal zooplankton migration. In order to increase their odds of survival, zooplankton commonly spend their daylight hours hiding in the darkness of the deep ocean, ascending thousands of meters to the ocean surface at night to graze on phytoplankton. They return undetected to the abyss before daybreak if all goes according to plan. In terms of cumulative distance traveled, this is the largest animal migration on the planet; due to the indispensability of these tiny critters marine to food web as a whole, it is arguably the most important. Despite all this however, we know surprisingly little about the diurnal zooplankton migration or how our activities may be impacting it. Read Jesse’s full report.

Updates from researchers on the R/V Western Flyer:

Saturday, June 1, 2019
Postdoctoral Fellow Katie Pitz

We’ve begun sampling around the Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS) cabled observatory. We have collected water samples from the ship for eDNA analysis, conducted Bongo net tows, and coordinated our efforts among the different sampling platforms that have all been deployed around this site.

Already we’ve seen lots of marine mammal activity including a large pod of pacific white-sided dolphins, humpbacks, and northern right whale dolphins. Our nighttime Bongo tow caught myctophids, pyrosomes, and an abundance of krill. The LRAUVs have been sampling both within the range of the acoustic cone at MARS and also on a two-kilometer radius circle around the site. This allows us to match acoustic detection of organisms with genetic data and information about bioluminescence across these layers.

This acoustic cone allows us to visualize both the location of scattering layers (where organisms are in the water column) and the LRAUV as it is sampling them—a unique opportunity to match eDNA and acoustic data!

MBARI Cruise Participants

Other Cruise Participants:

Laura Sofen, University California, Berkeley; Robert Pitz, University California, Davis; Jesse Bausell, Sara Ebersole, Sabrina Garcia, Emily Lancaster, University California, Santa Cruz; Gabriela Chavez