Steve Haddock remembers every detail about his first ocean encounter with a comb jelly. The open water was a bottomless deep blue. The animal, about the size of a tennis ball, shimmered with bioluminescence. “It was just cruising along like a hover craft,” says Haddock, a marine biologist at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, Calif. “Comb jellies are more alien than any aliens people imagine,” he says.
Start with their appearance: The marine animals resemble translucent balloons rigged with flashing, colored lights. Some species glow. When startled, some flash electric blue. Vertical rows, or combs, made of hundreds of iridescent, hairlike cilia run the lengths of their globular bodies (thus the name comb jellies). In some species the cilia are 2 millimeters long — 200 times the length of cilia in other animals — and they beat in coordinated waves, propelling the jellies forward, backward and diagonally in search of prey…
NEW DEEP SEA HYDROTHERMAL VENT COMMUNITIES IN THE SOUTHER OCEAN
The study was performed in the depths of East Ridge Scotie (Antartic Ocean) by ROV (Remoteley Operated Vehicle), a vehicle operated by remote control, which has enabled it to capture the amazing images. Despite the depth and temperature, there is a rich biodiversity down there
Unidentified octopus at 2,394 m depth.
Actinostolid sea anemones surrounded byVulcanolepason a chimney with diffuse hydrothermal venting at 138, 2,396 m depth
Undescribed peltospiroid gastropod surrounding singleKiwa sp. and partially covered byLepetodrilussp. The pycnogonid Sericosurais at the bottom right of the image ( 2,608 m depth)
The Midwater Ecology lab has been exploring the midwaters of Monterey Bay for the last week on the Western Flyer. On this expedition, they have been working with the ROV pilots to attempt to use the sonar on the ROV to detect midwater animals.
The pilots are testing how increasing the pulse length on the Mesotech sonar enables the scientists to detect more midwater animals in order to try to estimate abundances. For example, they could estimate the size of krill swarms. With the ROV they can ground-truth the organisms the sonar is imaging.
This bright sonar hit is an exceptionally large vampire squid, Vampyroteuthis infernalis.
Extending its arms 8 inches (20 cm) across, a pink crab perches on a bed of soft coral 2,310 feet (740 meters) deep in the Sangihe Talaud region off of Indonesia. The Little Hercules ROV captured this image of the colorful critter during a 2010 ocean expedition. Crabs like these are only found living on soft coral.
Credit: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, INDEX-SATAL 2010
If you think gestating one baby is tough, try 3,000. The squid Gonatus onyx carries around her brood of 2,000 to 3,000 eggs for up to nine months. The squid moms have their arms full: While carrying their eggs, they’re stuck swimming with their fins and mantle instead of their much more effective arms.So why would G. onyx take such care of its thousands of offspring?
According to a 2005 study published in the journal Nature, the squid carry their eggs to deep water, where predators are rare. The deep-sea offspring are also larger and more capable of survival than shallow water squid — thanks, mom!
We started our day with a dive at Pedro’s whale carcass, discovered by Peter Brewer and his team last week in the North Santa Cruz Basin. We were ordered to recover the vehicle shortly after the start of this dive because a naval operation was planned for this area. After a few hours, we were informed that we could return to the waters and continue with a second dive.
Pedro’s whale fall provided a stark contrast to the site we visited two days before at the Rosebud whale fall in the San Diego trough. Rosebud was covered with long, beautiful Osedax bone worms, a thick, fluffy, shag carpet of bacterial mat, shiny scale worms (we called “Liberace”), Dorvellid worms, and a few snails. Pedro’s whale fall was different. It was covered with the whale-fall anemone Anthosactis pearseae, provannid snails, Vesicomyid clams, and numerous chemosynthetic mussels from the genus Idas…
We just finished two cruises investigating the U.S. Atlantic Canyons. Up next, the Okeanos will be mapping over a portion of the New England Seamount Chain. From hydrothermal vents to canyons to seamounts and more, there are so many interesting features to explore in the ocean.
If you were leading a research expedition, what feature(s) would YOU want to explore?
Think all those tires, bags, shoes and bottles discarded into the ocean somehow make it back to land?
Instead of washing ashore, much of what we throw in the ocean stays there, slowly sinking to the bottom, releasing pollutants into the water, wrapping around corals, or, in some cases, becoming part of a critter-covered landscape. In the deep sea, low oxygen levels, scarce sunlight, and freezing water limit the rate at which items decompose: Something that might survive a few years on land could exist for decades underwater.
Off Southern California, an abandoned shoe rests on the ocean floor, 1,548 feet down. There’s a tire 2,850 feet beneath the surface in the Monterey Canyon. Also in the canyon? An enormous shipping container, now under 4,200 feet of water…
Trash in the Deep Sea: Bringing a Hidden Problem to Light
Using advanced technologies, such as remotely operated vehicles, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) is helping to uncover the far-reaching presence of man-made debris in deep ocean ecosystems. Over the past 25 years, we have recorded evidence of debris up to 13,000 feet deep and 300 miles offshore from waters off of central and southern California, the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii, and the Gulf of California. We’ve seen trash everywhere we’ve looked…
This bizarre-looking deep-sea fish is well named: the whalefish, because it looks like a whale! It has a gaping mouth, no fins or scales, and a deep lateral line running down its body, which detects vibrations in the water.
It was also part of an international mystery when Smithsonian researchers realized that they only had adult females in their collections. Where were all the males?
Cup corals (Desmophyllum) grow around an anemone on a mud-covered ledge. During the Deepwater Canyons 2013 expedition, scientists collected cup coral specimens to help them understand the factors that influence the distribution of this species and perhaps even solve the mystery of differences observed between the deep and shallow populations.