2009 Pacific Northwest Expedition

Leg 2 - Midwater Ecology
Chief Scientist - Bruce Robison
July 25 - 30, 2009

The Midwater Ecology Group will use the remotely operated vehicle to conduct midwater surveys in Astoria Canyon for comparison with the midwater community and oxygen profiles of the Monterey Canyon. Samples of midwater animals will be collected for taxonomic comparisons, carbon analysis, and respiration measurements. This expedition may include some nighttime operations to conduct midwater trawling and squid jigging when the ROV is not in the water.

Day 6 - Last dive for Leg 2
July 30, 2009

Our last dive for this expedition. It’s been a very short but very productive dive series. We are due back at port in Newport at 1630 hours so we have moved a little closer to Newport trying to maximize our dive time before we have to recover the ROV and return to shore...

Day 5 - Mysteries from the midwater zone
July 29, 2009

Another day in the waters off of Oregon and it's a different dive site and different weather. We woke up this morning to foggy skies, two meter swells, and winds gusting up to 20 knots. The surface waters were filled with salps, doliolids, and a siphonophore called Nanomia...

Day 4 - Astoria Canyon
July 28, 2009

Another beautiful day out here—the sun is shining, with light winds and very calm seas. We started our second dive in the deeper end of Astoria Canyon this morning. We have seen a number of Humboldt squid on our dives here in Astoria Canyon...

Day 3 - George's lucky day
July 27, 2009

Overnight, we transited to a deeper site in Astoria Canyon. At this site, the water is about 2000 meters deep, so this will give us a chance to see what organisms we find deeper in the canyon. The ROV Doc Ricketts was launched by 6:30 am. We slowly descended looking for differences from what we found yesterday...

Day 2 - Our first dive
July 26, 2009

We launched the ROV Doc Ricketts at 6:30 this morning to commence our first dive in Astoria Canyon. Among our goals is the comparison of animals we encounter during this research cruise with those we observed in Astoria Canyon three years ago. We also want to differentiate animal diversity and abundance between...

Day 1 - Setting sail
July 25, 2009

We left the Oregon State University dock at 0700 hours this morning with Director of MBARI Marine Operations Steve Etchemendy there to cast off lines and bid us farewell.

Leg 2

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.

High-frequency suction sampler

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

Detritus sampler

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


Used in combination with the High-Frequency Suction Sampler (HFSS) and Detritus Samplers, the spatulator flips items off the seafloor that are then vacuumed into the High Frequency Suction Sampler or collected with the Detritus Samplers.

Midwater acoustic current meter

The current meter is held by a small standalone fixture and measures the magnitude and direction of the currents about 1 meter above the seafloor.

 Research Team

Senior Scientist, Bruce Robison Bruce Robison
Senior Scientist, MBARI

Bruce Robison's research interests are centered on the biology and ecology of deep-sea animals, particularly those which inhabit the oceanic water column. He has pioneered the use of undersea vehicles for these studies and led the first team of scientists trained as submersible pilots for research in midwater. His midwater research program is presently addressing the ecology of gelatinous animals in the deep sea. This group includes ctenophores, medusae, and siphonophores, animals which cannot be investigated accurately with conventional sampling methods, but which play dominant roles in mesopelagic ecology. Related studies include trophic structure, physiology, and the behavior of midwater animals including fishes and squids. Behavioral studies are also investigating the ways that animals use bioluminescence in the deep sea, with both laboratory and in-situ observations.

Graduate Student, Stephanie Bush Stephanie Bush
Graduate Student, University of California, Berkeley

Stephanie is a doctoral candidate at UC, Berkeley, in the lab of Dr. Roy Caldwell. In collaboration with Bruce Robison and the MBARI Midwater Ecology lab, her dissertation research focuses on deep-sea squid ecology, particularly their defensive behaviors.

Senior Research Technician, Rob Sherlock 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).

Senior Research Technician, Kim Reisenbichler 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.

Senior Education and Research Specialist, George Matsumoto George Matsumoto
Senior Education and Research Specialist, MBARI

George is interested in the open ocean and deep sea communities with particular emphasis on invertebrates. Specific areas of interest include ecology and biogeography of open ocean and deep sea organisms; functional morphology, natural history, and behavior of pelagic and benthic organisms; and systematics and evolution of ctenophores and cnidarians (molecular phylogeny). George also runs a wide variety of education programs at MBARI

Research Technician, Susan von Thun 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.

Reseach Assistant, Kris Walz 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 for the first time since starting a family.