2011 midwater ecology cruise
  • 13 - 19 June 2011

Midwater Ecology 2011
Chief Scientist - Bruce Robison

The midwater ecology group is documenting the effects of declining oxygen concentrations on midwater communities, and has spent thousands of hours surveying and describing the deep waters of the ocean. On this week-long research cruise, the midwater ecology research team, headed by Dr. Bruce Robison, will be examining the physiological characteristics of midwater animals relative to the expanding oxygen minimum zone.

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Day 7 — It is not the length of life, but the depth of life
June 19, 2011

The polychelid, lobster larva, just before it was collected in a detritus sampler by the ROV Doc Ricketts. This organism is a rare find as only a dozen have been observed over the last 18 years. Read more

Day 6 — Watching the siphonophore migration
June 18, 2011

We began the dive today at 0630, but the siphonophores were up before us. Nanomia bijuga is a common siphonophore in Monterey Bay and many other places around the world. Each day in the late afternoon, these siphonophores undertake a migration, moving up to more plankton-rich, shallow water. Read more

Juvenile vampyroteuthis infernalis Day 5 — The intriguing vampire squid
June 17, 2011

Vampyroteuthis infernalis is high on the list of target species of our cruise as we are interested in many aspects of its biology. One of them is to determine the function of the unique long (up to nine times the length of the animal) filaments these animals have in addition to their eight arms. Read more

Chiasmodon, the black swallower Day 4 — Deep dive reveals rare animals
June 16, 2011

Today we had a successful day at a deeper site (2,300 meters) within Monterey Bay. It was great, full of rare and interesting organisms! Read more

Atolla Day 3 — Recovering the MRS
June 15, 2011

Last night we steamed offshore to a deeper site, but unfortunately woke up to some very big swell and wind. We steamed back into Monterey Bay to our Midwater 1 site where we were hoping it would be calm enough to dive. Read more

Brooding octopus Day 2 — Revisiting a brooding octopus
June 14, 2011

Today we traveled to our Midwater 1 site in Monterey Bay. We visit this site regularly during the course of a year to collect horizontal video transects at specific depths in the water column. Read more

juvenile red octopus Day 1 — Testing the oxygen consumption of shrimp
June 13, 2011

Today we left the dock at 8:30 a.m. and steamed out to the MRS Mooring 1,400 meter site in Monterey Canyon. Read more


R/V Western Flyer

The R/V Western Flyer is a small water-plane area twin hull (SWATH) oceanographic research vessel measuring 35.6 meters long and 16.2 meters wide. It was designed and constructed for MBARI to serve as the support vessel for ROV operations. Her missions include the Monterey Bay as well as extended cruises to Hawaii, Gulf of California, and the Pacific Northwest.

ROV Doc Ricketts

ROV Doc Ricketts is MBARI's next generation ROV. The system breaks new ground in providing an integrated unmanned submersible research platform, with many powerful features providing efficient, reliable and precise sampling and data collection in a wide range of missions.

Midwater respirometry system (MRS)

The MRS conducts oxygen consumption rate measurements in situ gauging the metabolism of animals without subjecting them to the stresses of transport to the surface. MRS has been modified to operate in deeper water with an expanded capacity, enabling respiration studies on animals that live deeper than 1,250 meters.

Detritus sampler

Detritus samplers are large plexiglass containers with lids that can be controlled by the pilot of the ROV and gently closed once an organism is trapped inside.


The CTDO is mounted on the ROV and takes in situ measurements of environmental parameters such as conductivity, temperature, depth, and oxygen concentration.

High frequency suction sampler

This sampler acts like a vacuum cleaner sucking up samples and depositing them into one of the 12 buckets.

 Research Team

Bruce Robison
Senior Scientist, MBARI

Bruce Robison's research is focused on the biology and ecology of deep-sea animals, particularly those that inhabit the oceanic water column. He pioneered the use of undersea vehicles for these studies and he led the first team of scientists trained as research submersible pilots. At MBARI, his research group has focused on the development of remotely operated vehicles as platforms for deep-sea science.

Kim Reisenbichler
Senior Research Technician, MBARI

Kim's general area of interest is the study of midwater and deep sea animals. He has developed many tools and techniques to observe, manipulate, and collect these organisms, and to maintain the animals in the lab.

Rob Sherlock
Senior Research Technician, MBARI

Rob studies the properties and organisms of the ocean's largest habitat, the midwater. His research group is learning more about the ecology of midwater organisms; their abundance and seasonal patterns, depth ranges and who eats whom. Rob enjoys watching mesopelagic animals with the HD (high definition) camera; animals that once would have come up as glop in a net can be seen to have delicate structure and complex behavior (e.g., squid inking or changing color, fish eyes that rotate to keep prey in sight, an amphipod carving up a pyrosome to make a home).

Kris Walz
Research Assistant, MBARI

Kris works with the Midwater Ecology group, analyzing ROV video transects between 50 and 1,000 meters in depth to identify biological organisms from all taxonomic levels, most of which spend their entire lives in the oceanic water column. Kris started working at MBARI in 1996 after finishing her Master's at UC Santa Cruz. She's looking forward to returning to sea this month to collect video transects and search for deep-sea lobster larvae from the family Polychelidae.

Susan von Thun
Research Technician, MBARI

Susan works in the MBARI video lab, where her primary responsibility is to watch video taken with MBARI's remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and make observations about the organisms, behaviors, equipment, and geological features that she sees. While annotating video, she's become adept at identifying numerous deep-sea organisms, specializing in midwater organisms. She works closely with the midwater ecology group and the bioluminescence lab to expand her knowledge of the fish, jellies, cephalopods, and other groups in the midwater.

Henk-Jan Hoving
Postdoctoral Fellow, MBARI

Henk-Jan received his Ph.D in Ocean Ecosystems from the University of Groningen. Henk-Jan has developed an experimental program of both laboratory and in situ research that will chemically mark increments in the deposition of squid statoliths. Using the marks as temporal reference points, the pattern of deposition should allow him to determine the age of any squid.

Karen Osborn
Postdoctoral Fellow,
Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Karen's research interests include evolution of pelagic life, phylogenetics of marine invertebrates, and mechanisms of speciation in the open ocean and the deep sea. Karen is a former MBARI graduate research assistant and is currently a University of California President's Postdoctoral Fellow at Scripps.

Richard Young
University of Hawaii at Manoa

Richard is Professor Emeritus of Oceanography at the University of Hawaii. His research seeks to increase our understanding of cephalopod phylogeny and biodiversity, focusing in particular on cephalopod beaks, one of the more under appreciated features of all cephalopods, and their potential usefulness in phylogeny and identification.

Alexis Walker
Summer Intern, MBARI

Alexis is working with the Midwater Ecology Lab as a summer intern. Her interest in deep sea research has brought her to MBARI from UC Santa Cruz where she received her B.S. in marine biology, and more recently worked as a research technician.