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Midwater Ecology Expedition 2018 – Log 1

This beautiful jelly Colobonema sericeum can drop its tentacles and flee to distract a would-be predator.

Midwater Ecology Expedition 2018 – Log 1

Between the ocean surface and the seafloor lies a vast, fluid universe, Earth’s least-known environment. That habitat, commonly called the midwater, contains much of planet Earth’s biodiversity. Using remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to study the animals living there gives us a unique perspective of this ecosystem. Regular investigations of midwater ecology with ROVs has led to many of MBARI’s most stunning discoveries.

You may be familiar with the submarine canyons’ coral-covered walls or sediment-laden meanders, but the vast majority of the life here never touches the seafloor. On this expedition, we’re exploring the deep waters above the Monterey Canyon. This canyon—in MBARI’s backyard—has given us opportunity to thoroughly survey the community that thrives there and discover new animals, behaviors and ecological linkages on every dive!

As a member of MBARI’s video lab with expertise in midwater animals, I spend much of my time watching ROV video in the lab. So, it’s always fun to join this group at sea and spot animals in real time. While sitting in the control room all day, not only do we discuss current research, personal observations, and ideas for future work, we also get to learn from each other. One of my favorite things is when I spot a fish we rarely see and Bruce Robison and I get to geek out over how cool it is! Many fish have some on the most stunning adaptions to life in the deep sea.

Here are some highlights from today’s dive, cruising slowly down from the surface all the way to 3,000 meters on the seafloor. As Bruce says, sometimes we go to the bottom “just to make sure it’s still there.” But seriously, there are many animals that live just above the seafloor called “benthopelagic organisms” that we are also interested in while we explore Monterey Canyon’s ecological treasures.