MBARI’s seafloor mapping robot has had a busy year. It documented a huge lava flow from a three-month-old volcanic eruption off the Oregon coast; it charted mysterious three-kilometer-wide scour marks on the seafloor off Northern California; and it unearthed data that challenge existing theories about one of the largest offshore faults in Central California.
Acorn worms have historically been thought of as shallow-water animals that live in burrows in muddy-bottom areas. Only four species were known to live in deep water. However, a recent paper by MBARI collaborator Karen Osborn and her coauthors shows that acorn worms live in the deep ocean environments around the world.
After six years of design and testing, MBARI scientists have a sophisticated new tool for studying the effects of ocean acidification on deep-sea animals. This complex system, the Free-Ocean Carbon Enrichment (FOCE) experiment, is the only experiment in the world that allows researchers to study ocean-acidification impacts on deep-sea animals in their native habitat, using free-flowing seawater.
Ken Johnson uses chemistry to study biology. This unusual approach is helping him understand why and how much microscopic algae grow in different parts of the world ocean. With the entire ocean as his sample bottle, Johnson’s challenge is determining where to monitor. Ideally, to get enough data, he needs to sample everywhere, simultaneously and continuously. By enlisting the help of some robotic floats, Johnson is on track to doing just that—and all from the comfort of his office chair.
On June 6, 2011 the ALOHA Cabled Observatory (ACO) “went live,”returning data from instruments on the deep seafloor, about 60 nautical miles north of Oahu, Hawaii, and 4,800 meters below the ocean surface. Funded by the University of Hawaii and the National Science Foundation (NSF), the ALOHA observatory uses a retired telecommunications cable to provide data and electrical connections for a variety of research instruments.
On June 25, 2011, MBARI hosted its annual open house, providing the public with a once-a-year opportunity to visit the MBARI campus and talk with scientists, engineers, and marine operations crews about their work. These photos show some of the displays and activities that captivated kids and adults alike.
In late May of 2011, MBARI and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) installed a new ocean-monitoring buoy about 30 miles offshore of Monterey Bay. This collaborative effort, brokered by the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS), could pave the way for similar buoys maintained by NDBC around the country, providing a wealth of new scientific information.
Getting heavy objects down to the seafloor is pretty easy—in a best-case scenario, you just drop them over the side of a ship, and hope that they land right side up on the ocean bottom. However, getting those same objects back to the surface can be problematic. MBARI Marine Operations Technician Mike Conway recently developed a new device called a “line elevator” that will make this process easier.
On April 11, 2011, a team of researchers installed a small but high-tech ocean-monitoring buoy in Tasman Bay, at the northern end of New Zealand’s South Island. This buoy, along with additional instruments in the water column and on the seafloor, comprise the TASCAM (TASman Bay, CAwthron, and MBARI) system.