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Seafloor Ecology Spring 2020

Benthic Ecology Group and ROV pilots gather around the ROV Doc Ricketts for a team photo.

Seafloor Ecology Spring 2020

A crab and several different types of sponges inhabit this rock on Sur Ridge. Image © 2017 MBARI

MBARI Expedition #485

Expedition goal: Our cruise off the central California coast has several objectives related to two research themes in deep-sea ecology: 1) study the sponge and coral communities at Sur Ridge, and 2) revisit the “Octopus Garden” at the base of Davidson Seamount to study the fascinating biology of octopuses brooding there in warm hydrothermal springs.

Expedition dates: March 2 – 7, 2020

Ship: R/V Western Flyer

Research technology:  ROV Doc Ricketts, benthic respirometer systemdeep particle image velocimetry (DeepPIV), Deep Coral Cam

Expedition chief scientist: Jim Barry

Our primary goals focus on studies of deep-sea coral and sponge communities at Sur Ridge, a seamount about 60 kilometers (40 miles) off the coast of Monterey which rises to within 800-1,400 meters (2,600-4,600 feet) of the sea surface. This rocky ridge is rich with beautiful coral and sponge gardens containing centuries-old corals towering two-to-three meters tall like small oak trees, sponges one-to-two meters wide that may be even older, as well as a suite of fishes, sea stars, and other species that call these coral gardens home. The corals and sponges consume suspended plankton and drifting organic particles from currents sweeping over the ridge and must avoid being consumed by predators such as sea slugs and sea stars. We will be deploying a newly developed time lapse camera system, dubbed the Deep Coral Cam, to observe these communities over time, as well as other instruments including metabolic chambers and current meters. At the Octopus Garden, 3,200 meters (10,498 feet) below the surface, we will be measuring environmental conditions, deploying another time-lapse camera systems, and measuring metabolic rates of brooding octopus.

About Seafloor Ecology Spring 2020

March 2 - 7, 2020 – The Benthic Biology and Ecology Group is heading out to study deep-sea communities in three different environments.