Chasing ocean ecosystem hotspots Expedition goal: Tracking ocean HotspotsExpedition dates: June 5 – 11, 2018Ships: R/V Western Flyer, R/V Ruben LaskerResearch technology: Third-generation Environmental Sample Processor, long-range underwater vehicle Makai, CTD rosette, Wave GliderExpedition chief scientist: Katie PitzFor generations, fishermen have noted the locations of hot fishing spots. Top marine predators like seabirds have also learned to repeatedly find these locations, so that the hotspots turn into truly magnificent spectacles of marine activity. Hotspots occur for a variety of reasons—they may be associated with seafloor topography (reefs, seamounts, shelf breaks, etc.), the convergence of warm and cool waters (fronts), or other physical processes such as upwelling, a process in which nutrient-rich cold water from the deep rises toward the surface. Even though these hotspots have been recognized for centuries, scientists still know very little about their appearance, persistence, variability, and overall role in ecosystem productivity and structure. New partnerships and technologies now provide an exciting opportunity to learn more about the intricacies of ecosystem hotspots. More About this Expedition About this expedition: Engineers Brian Kieft (left) and Ben Raanan with long-range autonomus underwater vehicle Makai, an important tool for the CANON experiment. Scientists and engineers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Fisheries, brought together under the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON) project, are currently conducting an experiment targeting these important hotbeds of activity. Since 2010, MBARI’s CANON (Controlled, Agile, and Novel Observing Network) Initiative, a large-scale, multi-instrument, multi-institutional field program, has sponsored annual field experiments, which have focused on the biological and physical processes in the Monterey Bay. During the Spring 2018 CANON experiment, researchers are conducting fieldwork from Año Nuevo, north of Monterey Bay, to Point Sur in the south.CANON is designed as a responsive field experiment, which means that rather than running a pre-planned course, the direction of the experiment changes in response to the most recent information collected. Long-range autonomous underwater vehicles (LRAUVs) and wave-propelled gliders (Wave Gliders) will survey the study area for environmental clues that will guide the researchers to hotspot locations. After a hotspot is found, researchers will use traditional, shipboard sampling methods such as net tows (conducted by the scientific group on the NOAA ship R/V Ruben Lasker), and CTD sampling (conducted from MBARI’s R/V Western Flyer).Additionally, one of the LRAUVs, Makai, will concurrently collect water samples for genetic analysis. Makai is equipped with a third-generation Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) developed at MBARI, and will collect water that will be analyzed for “environmental DNA” (eDNA)—DNA from the sloughed-off skin, mucus, and excrement of a wide variety of marine animals. Samples from net tows, CTD casts, and the ESP will then be compared via eDNA analysis to confirm if they detect the same organisms. Environmental DNA has great potential to help scientists assess the distribution and relative abundance of marine animals, from anchovies to blue whales. If proven reliable, this new method for surveying animal populations could revolutionize and streamline basic research, resource management, and conservation practices.The results from these experiments will allow scientists to gain a more detailed understanding of the processes that drive the abundance and structure of marine communities in a moving ocean. This understanding is essential for forecasting the longer-term consequences of climate change on marine ecosystems.The partnership between MBARI and NOAA during these experiments is far-reaching. Collaborations such as these are more important today than ever due to growing concerns over environmental degradation and tight budgets. These cooperative field programs provide excellent opportunities for MBARI’s research partners and governmental agencies to leverage their expertise, technologies, and budgets. In addition to the NOAA Marine Fisheries office, the National Ocean Service is represented by the US Integrated Ocean Observing Systems (IOOS) program. IOOS provides national coordination for the MBON program, and supports the management of profiling glider data during the experiment via the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS). Scientists from the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, part of the Oceanic and Atmospheric Research office, were aboard the Ruben Lasker collecting samples for eDNA analysis. Expedition Logs Expedition Log Chasing ocean ecosystem hotspots – Log 2 06.08.18 Expedition Log Chasing ocean ecosystem hotspots – Log 1 06.07.18 Team Directory Marguerite Blum Research Technician Kathleen Pitz Senior Research Technician Francisco P. Chavez Senior Scientist/Biological Oceanographer Eric Fitzgerald Dock Manager/Deckhand Jules Friederich Research Assistant Erich Rienecker ROV Pilot/Technician, ROV Doc Ricketts CollaboratorsJong Kuk Hong (Korean Polar Research Institute), Young Keun Jin (Korean Polar Research Institute), Tae Siek Rhee (Korean Polar Research Institute), Scott Dallimore (Geological Survey of Canada). Mathieu Duchesne (Geological Survey of Canada) Technologies All Technologies Instrument Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) Technology Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) This “lab in a can” provides on-site collection and analysis of water samples from the ocean, identifying the presence of organisms and/or biological toxins. Vehicle, Autonomous Surface Vehicle (ASV) Wave Glider Technology Wave Glider An autonomous surface vehicle built by Liquid Robotics, purchased and outfitted with sensors and communications gear by MBARI engineering. Vehicle, Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), Tethys Class Long Range AUV (LRAUV) Technology Long Range AUV (LRAUV) The long-range AUV (LRAUV) greatly expands the types of observations and experiments possible with autonomous platforms. Instrument CTD Rosette Technology CTD Rosette The CTD measures conductivity (which helps determine salinity), temperature, and depth.