News archive – 2014

Unusual snails found thriving at hydrothermal vents

Dec 10, 2014 – MBARI Senior Research Technician Shannon Johnson Williams described five new species of Alviniconcha snails using DNA sequences. These snails live in the hottest and most acidic waters near hydrothermal vents. Because they live in these extreme conditions, Alviniconcha snails have severely degraded shells covered in spikes or they have no shells at all.
nanomia siphonophore

Juvenile squid avoids predators by imitating stinging jellies

Dec 10, 2014 – In the deep waters of the ocean, there are no places to hide. To avoid predators, many deep-sea animals have dark-colored, reflective, or transparent bodies. Others have evolved elaborate methods of deception.
images of wrecked barge Umpqua II

Researchers find wreck of sunken barge in Monterey Canyon

Nov 5, 2014 – During a recent expedition to map earthquake faults in Monterey Bay, MBARI researchers discovered the wreck of a barge on the muddy seafloor. The barge Umpqua II was about 1,700 meters (one mile) below the ocean surface.

Amazing "black sea devil" anglerfish observed in Monterey Bay

Nov 19, 2014 – On Monday, November 17, MBARI Senior Scientist Bruce Robison was leading a dive using the remotely operated vehicle Doc Ricketts in Monterey Bay when he came across this amazing deep-sea anglerfish about 580 meters (1,900 feet) below the ocean surface.

Jet engine discovered in Monterey Bay

Oct 10, 2014 – MBARI researchers aboard the R/V Rachel Carson discovered an apparently old, large jet engine in Monterey Bay while conducting a seafloor survey 17 miles from Moss Landing, California. During the survey, remotely operated vehicle (ROV) pilot Mike Burczynski observed a large sonar signal.

CANON research continues on the R/V Western Flyer

Oct 2, 2014 – MBARI's CANON research team is on the Flyer deploying many oceanographic instruments to study the interplay between physics, chemistry, and biology, and represent the core of the oceanic food web.

Big changes in the Sargasso Sea

Sept 23, 2014 – Over one thousand miles wide and three thousand miles long, the Sargasso Sea occupies almost two thirds of the North Atlantic Ocean. Within the sea, circling ocean currents accumulate mats of Sargassum seaweed that shelter a surprising variety of fishes, snails, crabs, and other small animals.
Members of Team HpHS (Japan) for XPRIZE competition

MBARI hosts Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE competition

Sept 11, 2014 – Carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by humans is causing the oceans to become more acidic. Unfortunately, oceanographers lack instruments can measure the acidity (pH) of the ocean precisely and continuously for long periods of time.

MBARI hosts teen through Make-A-Wish Foundation

Aug 28, 2014 – The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute was thrilled to host 17-year-old A.J. Wright as he fulfilled his wish to meet marine scientists at the institute. The Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the wishes of children diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions, arranged yesterday’s visit for A.J. and his family, who toured the campus and met Scientist Bruce Robison.

Jelly eating siphonophore

Aug 12, 2014 – During a recent remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dive, MBARI researcher Rob Sherlock observed an ambitious Solmissus jelly eating a siphonophore, Praya dubia. Last week, MBARI’s midwater ecology group conducted research from the R/V Western Flyer using ROV Doc Ricketts in Monterey Bay.

R/V Rachel Carson departs for the Pacific Northwest

Jul 31, 2014 – On Monday, the R/V Rachel Carson departed for a 32-day expedition in the Pacific Northwest. The trip is comprised of four legs with two port stops based out of Newport, Oregon. During the first leg, water samples will be collected for Senior Scientist Bob Vrijenhoek near Bodega Head, off the coast of northern California.

Mapping debris on the deep seafloor, part two

Jul 10, 2014 – Using maps produced by the AUV, MBARI researchers on the Western Flyer have identified hundreds of hard surfaces on the seafloor south of Santa Cruz Island. With the ROV Doc Ricketts, researchers can visually confirm and identify these objects, many of them man-made.

Mapping debris on the deep seafloor

Jul 9, 2014 – On Monday, a group of MBARI scientists led by Peter Brewer headed south along the California coast on the Western Flyer. They are revisiting an area south of Santa Cruz Island that was previously used as a disposal site for both civilian and military debris.

Day of Engineering, Science, and Technology

Jul 1, 2014 – MBARI’s Board of Directors visited the institute last month for our annual Day of Engineering, Science, and Technology (DOEST) to hear presentations from scientists and engineers about current research projects at the institute.
montage of cephalopods

Celebrating cephalopods

Jun 24, 2014 – Cephalopods—squids, octopuses, and their relatives—are some of the most beautiful and intriguing animals in the ocean. During the week of June 23-27, 2014, MBARI, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Science Friday teamed up to present a wonderful array of videos and still images of these creatures.

3D printing at MBARI

Jun 11, 2014 – Inside the machine shop at MBARI is a rectangular metal box that looks like it could be a large refrigerator with a built-in microwave. In actuality, this enormous container is a three-dimensional (3D) printer, one of two professional 3D production systems at MBARI.

Bolinopsis infundibulum, a well-adapted ctenophore

May 29, 2014 – The ocean’s surface waters and the deep sea provide contrasting living conditions for marine animals. The deep sea is cold with high pressure and limited food and oxygen. The surface is warm with low pressure and more food and oxygen. The ctenophore Bolinopsis infundibulum has evolved to survive in both habitats.

Colors in the deep sea

May 27, 2014 – Far below the ocean’s surface, sunlight does not reach the deep sea. But many deep-sea animals display an astonishing array of vibrant colors when they are illuminated by the bright lights on MBARI’s remotely operated vehicles.

MBARI at Monterey Bay Sanctuary Celebration

May 22, 2014 – Last Saturday, MBARI participated in the first annual Monterey Bay Sanctuary Celebration at the Santa Cruz Wharf. In association with the wharf’s 100th anniversary, the event showcased marine recreation and research in the Monterey Bay area.
satellite image shows temperature of the ocean in and around San Pedro Bay on April 2, 2014

ECOHAB Spring 2014—Preliminary Observations

May 21, 2014 – It’s now late May and the spring 2014 ECOHAB field experiment is winding down. Researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) are still conducting occasional surveys of the San Pedro Bay, but the rest of the instruments have been recovered.

Collecting benthic ctenophores

May 20, 2014 – Ctenophores, or comb jellies, are typically found in the water column, far above the seafloor. Yet a few species manage to live on the bottom of the ocean. MBARI Scientist Steven Haddock and his colleagues are currently at sea on MBARI’s research vessel Western Flyer, studying ctenophores and other deep-sea animals with ROV Doc Ricketts.

Nutrient-virus interactions in picophytoplankton

May 12, 2014 – Amy Zimmerman, a postdoctoral fellow at MBARI, recently conducted field experiments to study the interactions between viruses and nutrients in the ocean. She traveled to the Sargasso Sea (in the North Atlantic Ocean) to investigate how these interactions impact picophytoplankton, the smallest community of phytoplankton.

ROV Doc Ricketts completes 600th dive

Apr 30, 2014 – Remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Doc Ricketts successfully completed its 600th dive yesterday. Since February 2009, Doc Ricketts has explored the deep sea as far north as the Juan de Fuca Ridge off the Pacific northwest coast and as south as Baja California, Mexico.

Fangtooth fish observed in Monterey Bay

Apr 29, 2014 – Aboard the Western Flyer, MBARI’s Midwater Ecology Group is halfway through an eight-day expedition in Monterey Bay. Yesterday morning, the team and crew members excitedly observed a fangtooth fish using the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Doc Ricketts.

Midwater ecology lab at sea in Monterey Bay

Apr 28, 2014 – Last week, MBARI’s Midwater Ecology Group, led by Bruce Robison, embarked on an eight-day expedition aboard the R/V Western Flyer to conduct research in Monterey Bay. The lab will use a midwater toolsled, equipped with sampling chambers and an underwater “vacuum cleaner,” to collect animals in the deep sea.

Benthic Rover recovered after three years in the deep sea

Apr 25, 2014 – The Benthic Rover slowly creeps along the seafloor, settles at a random study site for two to three days, and then moves along to the next site approximately ten meters away. The Rover was built to measure oxygen consumption of benthic, or seafloor, organisms as a way to understand the supply and demand of carbon in the ocean’s deepest waters.

Studying underwater faults

Apr 17, 2014 – A group of researchers led by MBARI geologist Charlie Paull are conducting an expedition this week on R/V Western Flyer. Among other research techniques, they are using the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Doc Ricketts to collect samples of sediment that will help them identify the location of the San Gregorio Fault Zone where it crosses the northern flank of the Monterey Canyon.

Researchers describe four new species of “killer sponges” from the deep sea

Apr 14, 2014 – Killer sponges sound like creatures from a B-grade horror movie. In fact, they thrive in the lightless depths of the deep sea. Scientists first discovered that some sponges are carnivorous about 20 years ago. Since then only seven carnivorous species have been found in all of the northeastern Pacific.

Study of harmful algal blooms builds on year-to-year experience

Apr 9, 2014 – In late March 2014, like stealthy electronic sharks, two underwater gliders began cruising the ocean in and around San Pedro Bay, off Southern California. But instead of looking for a meal of fish or sea lions, these robotic vehicles were looking for signs of microscopic algae.

Sunken logs create new worlds for seafloor animals

Apr 9, 2014 – When it comes to food, most of the deep sea is a desert. Many seafloor animals feed on marine snow—the organic remnants of algae and animals that live in the sunlit surface waters, far above. However, marine snow only falls as a light dusting and doesn’t have much nutritional value.

A new way to retrieve data from AUVs

Mar 31, 2014 – As their name implies, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) navigate through the ocean on their own. In situ sensors on the AUVs measure physical characteristics (such as temperature and salinity) that are useful for scientists. But how and when do MBARI scientists access these data from AUVs?

Increasing the longevity of the wave-power buoy

Mar 26, 2014 – Beginning in 2009, a team of MBARI engineers (led by Andrew Hamilton) designed a wave-power buoy—an instrument that utilizes ocean waves to produce useable electricity (typically 300-400 Watts on average, depending on the weather).

Project Coordination and Compliance Specialist: Mandy Allen

Mar 19, 2014 – For the past 12 years, Mandy Allen has provided vital support to MBARI by ensuring that the institute continues to operate smoothly. It’s no surprise that Mandy was asked by her supervisor a few years ago to present at a conference in Ireland to discuss her professional experience in obtaining permits for one of MBARI’s biggest accomplishments, the Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS).

Improving communications at sea

Mar 13, 2014 – When MBARI researchers deployed an environmental sample processor (ESP) from a ship to collect and analyze water samples about 100 miles off the coast of Hawaii a few years ago, communications between the ship and ESP were very weak.

Cultivating bacteria in the deep sea

Feb 24, 2014 – Bill Ussler, a senior research specialist at MBARI, is investigating techniques for cultivating bacteria in the deep sea. Attempts to cultivate deep-sea bacteria in the laboratory have generally failed because most the bacteria do not survive the transit to the surface and it is difficult to create incubation systems that mimic the deep sea. Bill designed an in situ microbial incubation system to circumvent these problems.

Science News named comb jellies a top genome of 2013

Feb 14, 2014 – Comb jellies were included in Science News’ list of top genomes of 2013. Last year, MBARI Scientist Steven Haddock was an author on a paper that highlighted these fascinating and wondrous creatures. In this study, researchers compared the genomes of organisms, including that of Mnemiopsis leidyi, a comb jelly native to the coastal waters of the western Atlantic Ocean.

MBARI staff mentor WATCH students

Feb 5, 2014 – Students from Pajaro Valley High School participate in Monterey Bay Aquarium’s WATCH (Watsonville Area Teens Conserving Habitat) program. They conduct field experiments alongside scientists on environmental research projects they designed themselves.

Using a scanning electron microscope (SEM)

Jan 29, 2014 – Seven MBARI geologists and biologists spent the day at nearby Moss Landing Marine Laboratories learning how to use a sophisticated instrument called a scanning electron microscope (SEM, top image). Unlike traditional microscopes that produce images using light, SEMs focus a beam of electrons on a sample.

Western Flyer in shipyard for maintenance

Jan 17, 2014 – The R/V Western Flyer, MBARI’s larger research vessel, has started the new year at a shipyard in northern California for maintenance. Among other repairs, the ship’s thruster motors require service and the motors’ housings need to be replaced.

Three MBARI videos make the top ten in NSF-funded video competition

Jan 15, 2014 – Scientists are increasingly using video to communicate their research to the public. Last fall, the inaugural Ocean 180 Video Challenge highlighted this task by asking scientists to submit 180-second videos to be judged by middle-school students worldwide.

Sea butterflies in Monterey Bay

Jan 13, 2014 – Stephanie Bush, a postdoctoral fellow at MBARI, is studying the biodiversity of pteropods, also known as sea butterflies because they have wing-shaped membranes located on each side of their heads. The sea butterfly Corolla spectabilis can sometimes be found in large aggregations in Monterey Bay.