Deep-Sea Respiration Expedition 2018

The Midwater Respirometry System (MRS) is loaded with samples and attached to a mooring at 2,800 meters for 48 hours.

MBARI Expedition #446

Expedition goal: The principal goal of this expedition is to measure oxygen consumption rates of select deep-sea animals using a custom-designed tool, the Midwater Respirometry System (MRS). Weather permitting we will deploy the instrument at both shallow  (approximately 300 meters) and deep (approximately 3,000 meters) depths. We will also be observing and collecting midwater animals to investigate their ecology, physiology, and behavior in conjunction with onboard collaborators from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Stanford University, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Expedition dates: August 8- 16, 2018

Ship: R/V Western Flyer

Research technology:  ROV Doc Ricketts, Midwater Respirometer System

Expedition chief scientist: Bruce Robison

Measuring changes in environmental parameters (i.e., oxygen, temperature) and predicting the ecological consequences has been one of the long-term objectives of MBARI’s Midwater Ecology Group, led by Bruce Robison. Beginning in 1996, the team has used ROVs and AUVs to make quantitative measurements of the abundance and vertical distribution patterns of the animals that occupy the upper kilometer of the water column over Monterey Canyon. A significant result of these studies has been the documentation of a 60-to 80-meter vertical expansion of the oxygen minimum zone related to ocean warming that has resulted in a fragmentation of the resident midwater community.

Updates from researchers on the R/V Western Flyer:

Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Senior Research Technician Kyra Schlining

Today is the last day of this research cruise. Our station is in the bay and we awoke to feeding whales surrounding the ship this morning. We will recover the MRS, put all our samples away, clean the lab, and head back to the beach. It has been a productive and interesting expedition for all the researchers, but we are looking forward to getting back home.

MBARI Collaborator Stephanie Bush (Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History) is working on increasing the museum’s collection of deep-sea jellies. Here are a few of the deep-sea medusae we have collected during this expedition with the ROV Doc Ricketts. These specimens will go back to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and be added to their collection of deep-sea jellies.

Updates from researchers on the R/V Western Flyer:

Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Senior Research Technician Kyra Schlining

Yesterday was an early start with a goal of retrieving the MRS from the 2,000 meter mooring. During the dive, we spotted a rare deep-sea jelly, Vampyrocrossota childressi and a very full black swallower, Chiasmodon niger.

Updates from researchers on the R/V Western Flyer:

Monday, August 13, 2018
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Postdoctoral Fellow Chan Lin

My goal here is to collect amphipods, specifically from the genera ParaphronimaCystisoma, StreetsiaLanceola, and Scypholanceola. Each of those hyperiids has a distinct eye type. I am interested in studying how their vision works and how their visual world is represented in the brain. This is my first ever cruise in my life. Being able to see those animals onsite with ROV Doc Ricketts is like wearing a microscope in the deep sea, a wholly new and unbelievable experience.

MBARI Collaborator and Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Research Zoologist Karen Osborn

Gossamer worms are common, mesmerizingly beautiful, segmented worms found only in the midwater. While the distinctive, paired-down features of the group make them easy to identify as tomopterids, telling one species from another was nearly impossible… until now. After almost 10 years of collecting, observing, and sequencing, we can now distinguish with confidence the 18 species found in the waters of Monterey Canyon. In the first four days of this expedition we collected eight different species of which several are undescribed (i.e., new to science).

Updates from researchers on the R/V Western Flyer:

Thursday, August 9, 2018
Senior Research Technician Kyra Schlining

Our mission today was to fill and deploy the MRS at our deep mooring site (2,800 meters). Locating target animals is a challenge at this food-limited depth, but as the ROV flew closer to the seafloor we were able to successfully fill the chambers with a mysid shrimp, an eelpout, and several snailfishes. Respiration rates will be measured in the field over the next 48 hours, then we will bring the module back up to the surface to get weights and measurements of the animals.

On the way back to the surface we collected several deep-sea amphipods using the suction sampler for our collaborators who are studying their vision systems. This group of animals has wide variation in eye morphology.