Showing posts tagged as "deep sea"

"Most people go their whole lives without seeing them or coming to understand their beauty, quirkiness and braininess."
Learn how our colleagues at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute are helping us display amazing deep-sea animals  

"Most people go their whole lives without seeing them or coming to understand their beauty, quirkiness and braininess."

Learn how our colleagues at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute are helping us display amazing deep-sea animals


World’s best mom? Researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute observed this deep-sea octopus brooding eggs for over four years—longer than any known animal. Watch this extreme parenting in action!

How do you display deep-sea cephalopods like this vampire squid? It takes a big ship, a lot of scientists, and a robot. Learn how we do it, with the help of our colleagues at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, in our latest podcast.

Curious about how scientists study the deep sea? Discover how the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute explores the largest habitat on earth at an Open House in Moss Landing July 19.

Learn more

(Photos: Kelly Lance (c) 2013 MBARI)

We have a new visitor from the deep in our Tentacles special exhibition: the cock-eyed squid!

True to its name, this squid has two differently-sized eyes, one much larger than the other. Scientists think the larger eye detects faint light that filters down from above, and the smaller one spots bioluminescence generated in the deep.

Like a giant strawberry, the cock-eyed squid’s bright red body is covered in tiny spots. But instead of seeds, these spots are photophores—organs that produce light. Photophores can be fine-tuned to match light from above, allowing the cock-eyed squid to become nearly invisible, or may be used to attract mates and curious prey.

Thanks to a collaboration with our partners at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), you can be one of the first people in the world to get eye-to-eye with this incredible animal while we help MBARI scientists learn more about a little-known deep-sea species. Like many cephalopods, the cock-eyed squid can be fragile and short-lived, so we encourage you to visit soon and check it out!

Learn more about MBARI’s work

(First photo: 
Steven Haddock (c) 2000 MBARI, Others: MBARI)

Deep-sea squid: elusive, mysterious and parental? While some squid in the open ocean release their eggs to drift in the water column, our research partners at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute have discovered a deep-sea squid (Bathyteuthis berryi) that broods her eggs in a sheet attached to her body! It’s the second known instance of parental care in squid. Watch MBARI’s latest video for some amazing footage!

The Coolest Animals You’ve Never Seen: How a “Dream Team” of Scientists from the Aquarium and MBARI is Displaying Deep-Sea Cephalopods

From the vampire squid to the flapjack octopus, deep-sea cephalopods come in an amazing variety of shapes and sizes. Yet few humans have seen them alive.

Until now.

In the last month, we’ve displayed them as part of our “Tentacles” exhibit—thanks to a  collaboration with our partner institution, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). “MBARI has some of the best deep-sea biologists in the world,” says Aquarist Bret Grasse. “And they’ve been working with these animals for years. They’re great at finding and collecting deep-sea animals, and we’re good at keeping them alive and sharing them with the public.”

A mission like no other

The first challenge is to find the animals. Enter Stephanie Bush, postdoctoral fellow and expert on deep-sea cephalopods. She combed through MBARI’s database of ROV (remotely operated vehicle) dives, looking for locations in Monterey Canyon where deep-sea octopuses and squid were likely to be found.

“Many of these creatures are not rare in the deep sea,” she says. “They’re just rarely collected.”

The next challenge was keeping the animals alive after they reached the surface. The deep sea is almost pitch black, with crushing pressure, near-freezing water, little oxygen, and sparse food.

“We do the best we can to replicate an animal’s natural environment,” says Bret. “In this case, we used data on oxygen concentrations, water temperature, and salinity collected by MBARI’s ROVs to help us figure out what conditions the animals need.”

When it came to deciding what to feed the animals, the team looked at studies of the gut contents of dissected animals. In the case of the vampire squid, MBARI researchers recently discovered that they use a sticky filament to collect “marine snow.” To replicate this, our aquarists filled a blender with chilled seawater, fish eggs, krill, and bits of moon jelly, creating a slurry that they offered to the vampire squid in squirts from a turkey baster.

Showing an animal that’s never been shown before

But keeping the animals alive was only half the battle—our aquarists also had to figure out how to display them.  Inevitably, the animals are exposed to light (even though the exhibit is in a dimmed room) and occasional camera flashes (even though there are signs prohibiting this), as well as noise and vibrations from people.

In some cases, this means that deep-sea cephalopods only remain on exhibit for a few days at a time, before being returned to a nice dark, quiet tank in a back room. As Bret put it, “We’re always balancing the public’s desire to see these animals with what we think is best for the animals.”

The collaboration has allowed MBARI researchers to make new discoveries.

“When you have an animal in a tank, you can see little details in the shapes and behavior that you might not notice in video,” Stephanie says. “For example, of the fourteen flapjack octopuses we collected, every single one was a mature female. We have no idea why this is, or where the males are.”

Stephanie is especially excited because one of these female octopuses laid eggs behind the scenes.

“Before this, no one even knew what the eggs of this octopus looked like,” she said. “Now we know that they lay tiny little eggs on rocks, and then cover them with sand.” Stephanie is hoping that the eggs hatch, but no one knows how long this might take.

Overall, it’s been an amazing collaboration—with an important benefit.

“I think it’s great that we’re inspiring a ton of people to care about the deep sea,” says Bret. “It’s an area that we rarely see, but which is the largest habitat on Earth.”

Learn more about MBARI

Learn more about our Tentacles exhibit

Now on Exhibit: Two Rare Deep-Sea Cephalopods!

We just added two striking deep-sea animals to our Tentacles special exhibition: the vampire squid and the Japetella octopus. The vampire squid has never been exhibited at any public aquarium before. Both were collected with the help of our sister organization, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).

The vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis) is an ancient animal that lives in deep tropical and temperate waters—like the Monterey submarine canyon. Despite its sinister appearance—and its name, which means “vampire squid from hell”—this animal is a scavenger. It lives on “marine snow” that rains down from above: a mixture of poop, dead animal parts and mucus.

The Japetella octopus (Japetella sp.) is a beautiful animal that lives in the midwater realm, hundreds of feet below the surface but well above the sea floor. It has chromatophores that enable it to go from see-through with spots to almost a solid orange color. MBARI’s remotely operated vehicles have observed them on video both in Monterey Bay and—even more oftenon expeditions to the Gulf of California.

Like many cephalopods, these animals can be fragile and short-lived, so we encourage you to visit soon and check them out!

They’re in the exhibit where we recently housed two flapjack octopus, which we’ve now moved behind the scenes.

View a video about the vampire squid and the dangers it faces in the wild 

Learn more about the (pretty gross) diet of the vampire squid 

Photos and videos courtesy MBARI.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute is using high-tech tools to find amazing life in the deep sea. Take a tour in this video—with the help of deep-sea robots!

Killer sponges! Sounds like creatures from a B-grade horror movie, doesn’t it? In fact, they thrive in the lightless depths of the deep sea. Learn more about the latest finds from our sister organization, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).

About me

The Monterey Bay Aquarium, perched on the edge of a world-famous coastline, is your window to the wonders of the ocean. It’s located on historic Cannery Row in Monterey and is open daily except Christmas Day.

For more information about our animals and exhibits, and to view our live web cams, please visit

Hours of operation vary by season. Daily schedules and tickets are available on our website or by calling
(831) 648-4800.