Surprisingly large amounts of discarded trash end up in the ocean. Plastic bags, aluminum cans, and fishing debris not only clutter our beaches, but accumulate in open-ocean areas such as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” Now, a paper by researchers at MBARI shows that trash is also accumulating in the deep sea, particularly in Monterey Canyon.

Read the full story http://www.mbari.org/news/news_releases/2013/deep-debris/deep-debris-release.html


When first seen on the seafloor at nearly 200 m depth (640 ft.) recently, this little crab looked just like a rock covered in sponges. Then it started walking… Because it is so camouflaged we can’t determine it’s identify for sure, but our video annotation experts think it is probably the masking crab, Loxorhynchus crispatus.

When first seen on the seafloor at nearly 200 m depth (640 ft.) recently, this little crab looked just like a rock covered in sponges. Then it started walking… Because it is so camouflaged we can’t determine it’s identify for sure, but our video annotation experts think it is probably the masking crab, Loxorhynchus crispatus.


Salps are gelatinous animals that live in the open ocean, but are closely related to the “sea squirts” (tunicates) seen in tidepools. Colonial salps such as this one in the genus Heliosalpa often form long chains, with new animals budding off from others in the chain. By rhythmically contracting their bodies, salps propel themselves through the water and pump water through their guts, filtering out microscopic algae and other tiny organisms for food. This allows them to swim and eat at the same time. With such a simple feeding strategy, salps can multiply very rapidly when they have plenty of food. Most salps are found within 100 meters of the sea surface, where there is enough sunlight for algae to grow. Along the Central California coast, salps are typically seen in fall, when warm, open-ocean water flows toward shore.

Salps are gelatinous animals that live in the open ocean, but are closely related to the “sea squirts” (tunicates) seen in tidepools. Colonial salps such as this one in the genus Heliosalpa often form long chains, with new animals budding off from others in the chain. By rhythmically contracting their bodies, salps propel themselves through the water and pump water through their guts, filtering out microscopic algae and other tiny organisms for food. This allows them to swim and eat at the same time. With such a simple feeding strategy, salps can multiply very rapidly when they have plenty of food. Most salps are found within 100 meters of the sea surface, where there is enough sunlight for algae to grow. Along the Central California coast, salps are typically seen in fall, when warm, open-ocean water flows toward shore.


This squid, Taonis borealis, is one of the many interesting deep-sea organisms MBARI’s Midwater Ecology group observed on their research expedition in October 2012. You can learn more about their research and see more of the interesting animals they found by reading the group’s cruise logs.

This squid, Taonis borealis, is one of the many interesting deep-sea organisms MBARI’s Midwater Ecology group observed on their research expedition in October 2012. You can learn more about their research and see more of the interesting animals they found by reading the group’s cruise logs.


MBARI researcher Rob Sherlock took this photograph of a very large iceberg in the Weddell Sea (designated A-52), which was about 5 kilometers (3 miles) wide and 21 kilometers (12 miles) long. Because of rising temperatures, an increasing number of icebergs have been breaking off from Antarctic glaciers and ice sheets to drift around the Southern Ocean. In December 2005, Sherlock and several other MBARI biologists joined anexpedition headed by biologist Ken Smith to study how these drifting icebergs affect the distribution of marine animals and algae in Antarctic waters. For more on MBARI’s research in the Antarctic http://www.mbari.org/news/news_releases/2011/icebergs/icebergs-dsr-release.html

MBARI researcher Rob Sherlock took this photograph of a very large iceberg in the Weddell Sea (designated A-52), which was about 5 kilometers (3 miles) wide and 21 kilometers (12 miles) long. Because of rising temperatures, an increasing number of icebergs have been breaking off from Antarctic glaciers and ice sheets to drift around the Southern Ocean. In December 2005, Sherlock and several other MBARI biologists joined anexpedition headed by biologist Ken Smith to study how these drifting icebergs affect the distribution of marine animals and algae in Antarctic waters. For more on MBARI’s research in the Antarctic http://www.mbari.org/news/news_releases/2011/icebergs/icebergs-dsr-release.html


MBARI’s remotely operated vehicle photographed this “flytrap anemone” about 1,900 meters (6,200 feet) below the sea surface during a dive on Davidson Seamount. Marine biologists have not been able to determine the exact genus or species of this animal, but they have placed it in the family Hormathiidae. We often see flytrap anemones up to 30 cm (one foot) across growing on exposed rock outcrops on seamounts and deep sea ridges, where currents are relatively strong. Although some scientists have suggested that flytrap anemones eat bits of debris carried on the ocean currents, their body shape suggests that they feed on small animals, such as shrimp, that happen to swim by. Flytrap anemones were recently discovered to release bioluminescent slime when disturbed.

MBARI’s remotely operated vehicle photographed this “flytrap anemone” about 1,900 meters (6,200 feet) below the sea surface during a dive on Davidson Seamount. Marine biologists have not been able to determine the exact genus or species of this animal, but they have placed it in the family Hormathiidae. We often see flytrap anemones up to 30 cm (one foot) across growing on exposed rock outcrops on seamounts and deep sea ridges, where currents are relatively strong. Although some scientists have suggested that flytrap anemones eat bits of debris carried on the ocean currents, their body shape suggests that they feed on small animals, such as shrimp, that happen to swim by. Flytrap anemones were recently discovered to release bioluminescent slime when disturbed.


In this video we describe a new species of carnivorous sponge, Chondrocladia lyra from the deep-sea off California. C. lyra is called the harp sponge because its basic structure, called a vane, is shaped like a harp or lyre. Each vane consists of a horizontal branch supporting several parallel, vertical branches.

(Source: mbari.org)


In 2011-2012, a research team led by Ken Smith traveled to the area of the western North Atlantic known as the Sargasso Sea to study the effects of climate variation on surface Sargassum and deep-sea ecosystems. In this sample, feathery hydroids are interspersed with the fronds and floats of Sargassum seaweed. Today the team embarks on their last cruise in the Sargasso Sea on R/V Walton Smith, the Rosenstiel School at University of Miami’s primary research vessel. To read more about the research Smith’s group conducted in the Sargasso sea, see these cruise logs from the previous expedition: http://www.mbari.org/expeditions/Sargasso3/index.htm. Photo: Debbie Nail Meyer

In 2011-2012, a research team led by Ken Smith traveled to the area of the western North Atlantic known as the Sargasso Sea to study the effects of climate variation on surface Sargassum and deep-sea ecosystems. In this sample, feathery hydroids are interspersed with the fronds and floats of Sargassum seaweed. Today the team embarks on their last cruise in the Sargasso Sea on R/V Walton Smith, the Rosenstiel School at University of Miami’s primary research vessel. To read more about the research Smith’s group conducted in the Sargasso sea, see these cruise logs from the previous expedition: http://www.mbari.org/expeditions/Sargasso3/index.htm. Photo: Debbie Nail Meyer


montereybayaquarium:

The sort-of gross diet of the “vampire squid from hell”

Our colleagues at MBARI – the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute – have been sharing videos and stories about the vampire squid for years. We in turn have been sharing them with visitors during our daily Mysteries of the Deep auditorium program.

Now MBARI researchers have solved the mystery of what these unusual deep-sea animals eat. It’s a fascinating tale, with a high gross-out factor – if you’re easily grossed out by animals that eat corpses, feces and mucus.

Turns out that the vampire squid, an ancient animal with characteristics of both squids and octopus, lives in a low-oxygen zone where living prey is scarce. But there’s an abundance of marine snow raining down, consisting largely of poop, dead bodies and mucus discarded by other ocean life.

So, unlike all other known cephalopod species, it hangs out, waiting for this manna to sink down, where it traps the goodies on filament-like tentacles, wraps them in mucus and gobbles it up.

This despite a Latin name (Vampyroteuthis infernalis) that translates as “vampire squid from hell.”

You’ll find much more in the video, on the MBARI website, and in this article from Discovery News.

Not as charming as the cast of Twilight, perhaps. But a mystery of the deep – solved.


This video shows never-before seen footage of a deep-sea angler fish, Chaunacops coloratus. In it, we summarize recent work by scientists at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The video seen here was recorded by MBARI’s ROV Doc Ricketts at depths of 7,800 - 10,800 feet below the ocean’s surface.