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Biodiversity and Biooptics 2020 Expedition

Biodiversity and Biooptics 2020 Expedition

The ctenophore Bolinopsis infundibulum is one of the targeted species for this expedition. Photo by Steve Haddock
MBARI Expedition #483

Expedition goal: During this cruise, we will conduct ROV and scuba dives to aid our research into the biochemical, physiological, and genetic adaptations that midwater organisms have evolved to help them survive and diversify in the deep sea.

Expedition dates: January 28 – February 2, 2020

Ship: R/V Western Flyer

Research technology:  ROV Doc Ricketts

Expedition chief scientist: Steven Haddock

For the next six days, the MBARI Biodiversity and Biooptics Lab, led by Steve Haddock, will be at sea on the research vessel Western Flyer, exploring the organisms that inhabit the midwater of the Pacific between Monterey and San Diego. We will use the remotely operated vehicle Doc Ricketts, midwater trawling, and with blue-water scuba diving to observe and collect organisms from the shallow surface waters to the seafloor.

This expedition is a bit different from our normal operations. While we have regular collections off the Monterey Coast, and several expeditions off Baja California, it is rare that we can obtain samples along a North-South transect across the important biogeographic transition from northern to southern California. Many benthic or shoreline species show distribution patterns along these shores, but it is not clear how well we can resolve such differences in drifting and deep-sea animals.

Of special interest on this trip will be the population genetics of several midwater comb jellies. Our goal is to understand how organisms of different species are related to one another, and how the genetics of a single species varies within a population. Various species can be found from (relatively) warm surface waters with low hydrostatic pressure, all the way down to the low temperature, high-pressure environment of the deep seafloor. We have species from tropics and polar regions and samples from this cruise will help fill in gaps for understanding diversity.

How different species of ctenophores have evolved to live and thrive under great differences in pressure and temperature is a focus of investigation for our NSF-funded DEEPC Project (DEEPC stands for “Diversity, Ecology, and EcoPhysiology of Ctenophores”). We will also gather samples and observations for our ongoing NSF SiphWeb grant, which looks at evolution of predation by gelatinous siphonophores and their prey. We are looking forward to getting a glimpse at nearby, but potentially different communities and understanding their diversity.

About Biodiversity and Biooptics 2020 Expedition

January 28 - February 2, 2020 – The Bioluminescence Lab will conduct ROV dives to study the biochemical, physiological, and genetic adaptations that midwater organisms have evolved to survive and diversify in the deep sea.