• 13 - 19 June 2011


Day 2 – Revisiting a brooding octopus
June 14, 2011

Location - Midwater 1 site in Monterey Bay
Latitude 36º 42.1905 N
Longitude 122º 2.9280 W

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. We conduct these transects every 100 meters starting today at 200 meters depth with our last transect at 1,000 meters depth. The transects are run at a constant speed of 55 centimeters/second for 10 minutes, with a total distance of approximately 330 meters. We record the video on high-definition videotapes, and when we return to MBARI we will annotate organisms on each transect using the VARS annotation system. The observations are merged with ancillary data such as temperature, salinity, and oxygen content. We have been conducting horizontal transects at this site for 20 years and use these observations to measure changes in populations and species composition in the pelagic environment over time.

brooding octopus
A deep-sea octopus, Graneledone boreopacifica, brooding her eggs on a vertical face of a large rock outcrop at 1,400 meters.

Once we completed the series of transects, the pilots drove the ROV to the seafloor beneath the Midwater 1 site to visit a large rock outcrop at a depth of nearly 1400 meters. Here we checked in on a deep-sea octopus, Graneledone boreopacifica, brooding her eggs on a vertical face of the outcrop. We have visited this female octopus brooding this clutch of eggs several times. We are determining how long she broods her eggs, changes in egg size (we use two red lasers on the ROV to calculate size), and what other deep-sea octopods and organisms inhabit this rock outcrop. In years past, we've seen two other Graneledone females brooding eggs at this site as well as several small Graneledone individuals and numerous Psychrolutes phrictus blob sclupins.

octopus' clutch of eggs
Close-up of the female octopus guarding her clutch of eggs.

During the remainder of the dive, we collected a number of pelagic organisms for the researchers on board. We collected this large Histioteuthis heteropsis squid for Henk-Jan Hoving, a postdoctoratal researcher in our lab.

— Kris Walz

histioteuthis heteropsis squid
A Histioteuthis heteropsis squid collected for study in the lab.

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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.