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Sanctuary Currents 2011
Ripple Effects: The Far-Reaching Impacts of Local Ocean Research

General Info & Program | Session Abstracts | Ricketts Lecture
Research Posters & Awards | 2011 Symposium Poster (344KB PDF*)

Session Abstracts


Saturday, April 9, 2011


Paul Michel,
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

James Lindholm,
James W. Rote Distinguished Professor of Marine Science and Policy,
Director - Institute for Applied Marine Ecology, CSU Monterey Bay
Member, Sanctuary Research Activity Panel

Dr. Chris Harrold (Moderator),
Director of Conservation Research, Monterey Bay Aquarium
Chair, Sanctuary Advisory Council & Research Activity Panel

Creatures of Habit: California's Unique White Shark Population

Dr. Salvador Jorgensen
Monterey Bay Aquarium

White sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) occur in all of the world's oceans. A combination of electronic tagging, mtDNA analysis, and individual photo-identification reveal that a relatively small population of genetically distinct white sharks makes its home in the waters of the central California National Marine Sanctuaries. This population adheres to a highly predictable seasonal migratory pattern consisting of annual trips to offshore pelagic aggregation sites and homing to coastal pinniped rookeries along central California year after year. Our data suggest that despite long-distance annual migrations and the capacity for trans-oceanic movement, site fidelity and homing is likely be a mechanism by which this population has maintained genetic isolation over evolutionary timescales.

From Robots to Plankton—Monterey Bay as a Window to the Future

Dr. James G. Bellingham
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Monterey Bay is emerging as a focal point for the development of new methods and technologies for studying the biological ocean. In part this follows from the concentration of ocean science institutions in the area. However, the diverse marine ecosystems and dynamic nature of Monterey Bay, combined with a growing body of historical data, are drawing investigators to local waters from around the globe. Marine organisms, particularly micro-organisms, play critical roles in diverse processes important to humans, including exchange of carbon dioxide with the atmosphere, harmful algal blooms, and the nourishment of commercially important fisheries. Yet we struggle with even the most fundamental questions concerning their reproduction, life, and death. How do marine organisms respond to changes in their physical and chemical environment? What strategies do they employ to maximize their chances of survival? What factors trigger population explosions of marine phytoplankton, and what causes those populations to crash in a matter of days or weeks? Answering these questions requires developing new approaches for studying marine organisms and ecosystems.

In the coming decades, Monterey Bay will be the site of extensive at sea experimentation to better understand and (ideally) predict marine ecosystem responses to changes in climate. Although in their infancy, these experiments are already "cyber-intensive," and combine fleets of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) with onboard intelligence, sophisticated biological and chemical sensors, oceanographic models, and remote sensing. Minimizing impact on the environment is an important driver for these efforts, with investigators pursuing approaches that reduce use of disposable batteries and minimize seafloor impacts. These systems are linked via advanced communication and data infrastructure that includes satellite, fiber optic, and acoustic channels, allowing data to be assimilated into predictive models and the vehicles to be commanded from shore. Scientists participating in the experiments are distributed across the globe and interact with each other, with deployed hardware, and with data, via experiment portals. While these efforts will lead to a better understanding of the dynamics of marine ecosystems in Monterey Bay, the influence will extend much further, as advances realized of the coast of California are replicated and applied around the world.

Humboldt Squid in the California Current

Julia Stewart
Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University

Humboldt squid have been seen in Monterey Bay nearly every year since 1997, and because they prey on many local fishes and squids, they have the potential to affect local ecosystems and fisheries. Fishermen and researchers catch these five-foot predators and scientific submersibles record their behavior, but we do not have a good understanding of their movement. Questions remain as to where they go, how far they swim, how they interact with the environment, and with which habitats they are associated.

We have successfully tagged several Humboldt squid with pop-up satellite tags off the California coast. We are investigating their movement in the California Current System, both vertically in the water column and geographically along the coast using data from the tags. These results are compared with in situ temperature and oxygen measurements at depth and with sea surface temperatures gathered by remote sensing in order to model their habitat utilization. This will provide a better picture of how these new ecosystem players are interacting with their environment, an important component of assessing ecosystem interactions.

An Internationally Famous Deep-Sea Feature in Your Own Backyard

Dr. Andrew DeVogelaere
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

In 2008, Davidson Seamount became a part of NOAA's Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Eighty miles southwest of Monterey, this huge geologic feature juts 7,480 feet up from the seafloor, and its peak is still 4,101 feet below the sea surface. Only recent technology developed at MBARI has allowed effective research at these depths, and Davidson Seamount is now one of the best-studied seamounts of the 30,000 worldwide. In close to freezing water with no sunlight, colorful corals thrive along with a variety of newly discovered species. Images of these species have been shared internationally through the Internet, books, journals and television. Species distribution and abundance information from Davidson Seamount is changing our understanding of how ecological communities function in the deep sea. New mapping techniques used at Davidson Seamount are identifying spectacular geologic forms, overlaid on the unique overall shape of the seamount. Finally, recent surveys indicate that birds and mammals are thriving in the water above the seamount. Come see beautiful images and learn how Davidson Seamount has influenced international science and conservation.

Ocean Management in California: From Managing Abundance to Managing Scarcity

Fred Keeley
California Ocean Science Trust

The California Department of Fish and Game and the Fish and Game Commission were two of the very first parts of California government. Both were included in the state's original constitution, and became the foundation of one hundred and fifty years of minimal management of public trust resources in the California marine environment. Based on the premise that the ocean was abundant with fish and other marine life, management of the marine environment, if it existed at all, was done only in instances of crisis. In 1998, the entire premise of the law was changed from managing abundance to managing scarcity. This premise is the basis of the Marine Life Management Act, the Marine Life Protection Act, and the California Ocean Science Trust Acts. These laws have changed how we manage the marine environment, and constitute the path to a sustainable marine life future.
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