Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nurseries in the deep sea

04.09.2003


Exploring a deep-sea ridge off Northern California, scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) have discovered a unique undersea nursery, where groups of fish and octopus brood their eggs, like chickens on their nests. This is the first time that marine biologists have directly observed any deep-sea fish brooding its eggs. It is also the first time that two different types of mobile deep-sea animals have been observed brooding together in the same area. Although the scientists do not know exactly why the animals prefer this one area, they believe that the nursery represents a new type of biological “hot spot” (an area of intense biological activity).


A blob sculpin (Psychrolutes phrictus) peers over the edge of a boulder at the ROV Tiburon. This fish is guarding its eggs (which you can see in the background) along the Gorda Escarpment, off Northern California. Blob sculpin commonly grow to 60 cm (2 feet) in length. The animals on the rock are brisingid sea stars (with the feathery arms) and sea anemones. Image (c) 2002 MBARI


Three octopus (Graneledone sp.) brood their eggs on a rock outcrop along the Mendocino Escarpment, offshore of Northern California. The octopus are in a typical brooding position, with their heads down and arms curled outward. Their eggs are hidden underneath their bodies, which are about 16 cm (6 inches) across. Also on the rock are a deep-sea crab and several types of sea anemones. This photograph suggests some of the abundance and diversity of marine life found around the undersea nursery areas along the Gorda Escarpment off Northern California. Image (c) 2002 MBARI



MBARI scientist Jeff Drazen presented these observations last week at the Deep Sea Biology Symposium in Coos Bay, Oregon. His research is also featured in the current (August 2003) issue of Biological Bulletin, which shows photographs of the brooding fish and octopus on its cover.

The undersea nursery was discovered and documented using MBARI’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Tiburon. Using video tapes from Tiburon dives, Drazen and colleagues found that each summer, blob sculpin (Psychrolutes phrictus) and deep-sea octopus (Graneledone sp.) gather together at the crest of the Gorda Escarpment, off Northern California.


"The sculpin nests look like large splotches of purple strewn across the surfaces of boulders,” says Drazen. “The parent fish is usually resting on the seafloor near or on top of the eggs. When I first saw this in the video, I was surprised because no one had ever documented such behavior in a deep-sea fish before.” Blob sculpin are typically about 60 cm (2 feet) long and shaped like large, flabby tadpoles. Drazen estimates that some sculpin nests may contain up to 100,000 eggs. The nursery area lies near the crest of an undersea rise, almost a mile below the ocean surface.

MBARI geologists first encountered these nursery areas in August 2000. While performing geological surveys with ROV Tiburon, they noticed that octopus and blob sculpin were common near certain cold seeps, where hydrocarbon-rich fluids seep out of the seafloor. When they returned to the region in 2001, they brought along biologists, who realized that the octopus were present in unusually large numbers. On one dive, the ROV also brought up a rock sample which was covered with eggs. It wasn’t until later, when Drazen watched videotapes of these dives, that he realized both the fish and the octopus might be brooding eggs. Intrigued, Drazen organized a third dive in July 2002, to count the animals and their eggs and to make more observations. The high densities of animals measured in certain areas convinced Drazen that these nurseries might qualify as biological hot spots.

Previously discovered biological hot spots in the deep sea, such as hydrothermal vents and the tops of seamounts, have been related to geological or topographic features that cause an increase the availability of food. The nurseries on the Gorda Escarpment may represent a totally different type of hot spot, where physical conditions particularly favor the development of eggs. Drazen is still not sure what aspect of the physical environment makes this spot so popular for brooding animals.

Whatever the key conditions may be, Drazen points out that these areas are critical habitat for the species involved. He and his co-authors are concerned that these undersea nurseries could be endangered by commercial trawling or long-line fishing. Such fishing has expanded into the deep sea as near-shore fish stocks have declined. For this reason, Drazen suggests that reproductive hot spots such as this might qualify as areas to be protected from fishing.

Finding one reproductive hot spot may also help scientists discover other such areas. But as Drazen points out, “Unlike hydrothermal vent and seamount communities, which persist for generations, reproductive hot spots may be seasonal and transitory. This makes such sites especially hard to find. We hope to learn more about why these animals aggregate on the ridge and use this information to narrow our search for other important nurseries in the deep sea.”

Debbie Meyer | MBARI
Further information:
http://www.mbari.org/news/news_releases/2003/nr05-drazen.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University

nachricht How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>