Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Developing imaging technologies to search for, discover, and understand biology in the deep sea
Abstract: The deep waters of the ocean (below the euphotic zone) is one of the largest ecosystems on our planet, yet remains one of the least explored. Little-known marine organisms that inhabit these waters have developed life strategies that contribute to their evolutionary success, and may inspire engineering solutions for societally relevant challenges. Although significant advances in underwater vehicle technologies have improved access to this region, small-scale, behavioral observations of individual animals continue to be challenging. Here we present a number of imaging developments from MBARI’s Bioinspiration Lab that quantifies biomechanics and behavior of organisms in the deep sea. Two 4000 m-rated, ROV-based imaging systems, DeepPIV and EyeRIS, can be used to quantify time-resolved particle fields and structures in 2D and 3D, respectively. These instruments can be applied to a wide range of science use cases, both in the water column and on the benthos. We demonstrate how use of these tools can lead to surprising findings about the structure and function of giant larvacean (genus Bathochordaeus) mucus houses, and how they may serve as models for human health, filtration, etc. Future technologies that will enable study of organismal ecomechanics in the deep sea will also be discussed.
Host: Professor Peter Girguis