MOSS LANDING — In less than two weeks, a research vessel will leave port in Moss Landing for a 37-mile voyage out to a rocky outcrop called the Sur Ridge that is home to ancient corals and sponges, a venture that will be streamed live internationally.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute’s Western Flyer will livestream at 11 a.m. June 30 from the site of the geologic feature that rises 1,640 feet above the seafloor. Dubbed an “underwater oasis,” the slopes teem with life, including gardens of the deep-sea corals and sponges that still hold secrets for researchers.
In partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, MBARI has used state-of-art technology like marine cameras, high-resolution mapping tools and the remotely operated vehicle “Doc Ricketts” to help researchers better understand the growing effects climate change is having on these corals and sponges.
The dive will be streamed on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and will allow viewers to ask questions of experts from all three institutions, including what it’s like to have a career in deep ocean exploration. The institutions’ scientists, engineers, educators and aquarists will be on hand to field questions live from the chat room and comment threads during the program.
“This event is for anyone who loves the ocean and has dreamed of exploring its mysterious depths,” said MBARI Director of Communications and Strategic Initiatives Heidi Cullen. “It’s a chance to go behind the scenes with researchers and get a live, close-up view of the deep.”
A type of primer for the event will be held at 1 p.m. June 25 called “Revealing the Mysterious Coral and Sponge Gardens of Sur Ridge.” The webinar will feature Hannah MacDonald, a graduate student at the University of Rhode Island, and George Matsumoto, MBARI’s senior education and research specialist, who will highlight the June 30 expedition to Sur Ridge.
Webinar registration is available at https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/education/teachers/webinar-series.html.
Sponges in the deep sea are nothing like what can be found under bathroom sinks. They are animals that usually attach themselves to rock or the seafloor and feed on bacteria and tiny organisms. The sponges bring in water from their porous bodies and filter out their food sources.
The colorful living corals surrounding the Sur Ridge feed on “marine snow,” a smorgasbord of dead plankton, poop from marine wildlife and even some mucus that drift down from the surface. Corals have tiny, tentacled polyps that snatch food from the surrounding seawater.
The livestream can be viewed on:
Twitter at https://twitter.com/MBARI_NewsInstagram at https://www.instagram.com/mbari_news/Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MBARInewsOr MBARI’s webpage at https://www.mbari.org/live-from-the-deep-sur-ridge/