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Midwater Ecology Expedition Fall 2019 – Log 1

A small group of Mola visit the ROV Doc Ricketts on our way down.

Midwater Ecology Expedition Fall 2019 – Log 1

We departed Moss Landing on Friday heading out to our first dive location on the south side of Monterey Canyon. The weather and sea conditions were pretty calm making for a nice beginning to our seven-day expedition. There are a lot of different objectives for this week but, luckily, the science team is flexible and the Western Flyer and Doc Ricketts crews are amazing and supportive of the work.

In addition to physiology research using the Midwater Respirometry System and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Doc Ricketts, the science team is working on a couple of relatively new projects. One is to investigate the effect of relatively abrupt topography on the diversity and abundance of life. This involves new Postdoctoral Fellow Astrid Leitner whom you’ll hear more from later in the expedition. We also have Henk-Jan Hoving and Stella Scheer from GEOMAR on the expedition; Henk-Jan was a postdoctoral fellow and now runs his own research program at GEOMAR in Germany. They are working on the abundance and importance of food falls in the deep-sea and are planning to deploy some bait falls to observe timing and identity of visitors to the bait. Kathrin Bolstad is joining this expedition from Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand, and is primarily interested in cephalopods.

I’m interested in coronate medusa like this small jelly Periphylla. On the way down to the bottom, we were visited by a small group of Molas molas. When we arrived at the bottom (around 1,200 meters, or almost 4,000 feet), we spotted this cluster of Neptunea laying eggs in vertical columns. We spent a few hours doing horizontal transects starting in midwater and ending on the canyon wall, then finished the day with some acoustic surveys. All in all, a busy and productive start to the expedition.