Resolving the Food Paradox in the Sea – March 15th, 2018

Dr. Kelly Benoit-Bird, MBARI
Moss Landing Marine Labs Seminar Series - March 15th, 2018

Hosted by the Vertebrate Ecology Lab

MLML Seminar Room, 4pm

Open to the public

Dr. Kelly Benoit-Bird is a Senior Scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. She received a B.S. in Aquatic Ecology from Brown University in 1998 and a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa 2003. She spent a year as Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology before joining the faculty of Oregon State University in 2004 where she served was a professor of Oceanography until 2016. Kelly is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, and an IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society Distinguished Lecturer. She recently served on the Scientific Steering Committee for the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea Symposium on Marine Ecosystem Acoustics, as an organizer for the National Academy of Sciences Kavli Frontiers of Science Symposium, and as Chief Scientist for an Office of Naval Research Basic Research Challenge. Her research explores the ecological role of spatial and temporal dynamics in pelagic marine ecosystems from the surface to the deep sea. Her collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to understanding ocean ecosystems combines acoustic technologies with other tools including optical sampling, animal tagging, and behavioral modeling. Her work is changing our understanding of how ocean animals including zooplankton, fish, squid, seabirds, and marine mammals make their living.


Resolving the Food Paradox in the Sea

The average concentrations of biota in the ocean are generally low, a critical problem for ocean consumers. When we examine the biology with new tools guided by the predators themselves, we find that instead of being relatively devoid of life, the ocean is peppered with narrow hot-spots of activity. From the surface ocean to the deep sea and animals ranging from plankton and fish to squid and whales, small patches of plenty have impacts on ecosystems disproportionate to their contribution to the total biomass. These small aggregations provide the key to solving experimentally demonstrated feeding paradoxes as well providing a mechanism for evolution in an apparently isotropic environment where there are no obvious barriers to gene flow, Hutchinson’s “Paradox of Plankton”.

Repelling sharks to save them…and us! – March 22nd, 2018

Ryan Kempster, University of Western Australia
Moss Landing Marine Labs Seminar Series - March 22nd, 2018

Hosted by the Environmental Biotechnology Lab

MLML Seminar Room, 4pm

Open to the public

Ryan is a researcher and co-founder of the shark conservation group Support Our Sharks. Ryan began his research career with a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Marine Biology at Bangor University in the United Kingdom.  After completing his studies, Ryan travelled the world and was fortunate enough to gain experience working for a number of marine conservation organizations. He worked on a range of projects, including restoring mangrove forests in Thailand, surveying coral reefs in The Bahamas, monitoring fish populations in Fiji, and protecting sea turtle nests in Costa Rica. Despite having the opportunity to get up-close and personal with a diverse range of marine life, Ryan was always drawn to sharks.  In 2010, Ryan took his passion to the next level by completing a doctorate degree at the University of Western Australia, investigating the sensory biology of sharks.  His research in Australia focused on the sensory biology of sharks with the ultimate goal of refining and improving shark repellent devices to protect ocean users and reduce shark bycatch in commercial fisheries. 

Repelling sharks to save them...and us!

A detailed knowledge of the sensory biology of sharks is essential for understanding the way in which they interpret the world around them.  By understanding a shark’s senses, we may be able to develop non-lethal methods to manipulate their behavior and discourage negative interactions with humans.  Until recently, much of our understanding of the sensory biology of sharks was derived from early attempts by the US Navy to develop shark repellents to protect servicemen.  Although shark repellents have traditionally been used to reduce the risk of negative interactions with humans, they may also play an important role in reducing fisheries’ bycatch and, ultimately, in the protection of these ecologically and economically important species. Shark Biologist Dr. Ryan Kempster will reveal the history of shark repellent technologies and the latest insights from his own global research projects in the field. 

For more information, see:;

The power of open data science: experience from the Ocean Health Index – April 5th, 2018

Dr. Julia Stewart Lowndes, UC Santa Barbara
Moss Landing Marine Labs Seminar Series - April 5th, 2018

Hosted by the Pacific Shark Research Center

MLML Seminar Room, 4pm

Open to the public

Dr. Julia Stewart Lowndes is a marine data scientist at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB). As Science Program Lead for the Ocean Health Index (OHI), she works to bridge marine science and resource management. Julia contributes to the science and open data science behind OHI assessments and also leads a training program internationally to enable independent groups to assess ocean health and inform policy in their own waters. Increasingly, she is teaching open data science trainings as an instructor with NCEAS, Software Carpentry (including at MBARI last December!), RLadies, and Mozilla Study Groups (eco-data-science).

Prior to joining the OHI team, Julia earned her Ph.D. at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, researching potential effects of the Humboldt squid in the California Current System on coastal fisheries in a changing climate. She collaborated closely with her PhD advisor Bill Gilly, as well as John Field, Steven Bograd, Elliott Hazen (NOAA), Bruce Robison and Steve Haddock (MBARI) and many others. She was also heavily involved in the Center for Ocean Solutions’ MARINE program.

You can follow her on twitter: @juliesquid

The power of open data science: experience from the Ocean Health Index

For the past four years, we have dramatically improved how we work with the Ocean Health Index by embracing open data science practices and tools. We now work in a way that is more reproducible, transparent, collaborative, and open, with more emphasis on communication. Because of this, more than 20 countries around the world are building off our science and our code for ocean management in their own jurisdictions.

We’re sharing our story in a recent publication in Nature Ecology & Evolution (Lowndes et al. 2017) because at the time we thought this transformation was intimidating, but we are living proof that it’s possible. By describing specific tools and how we incrementally began using them for the Ocean Health Index project, we hope to encourage others in the scientific community to do the same — so we can all produce better science in less time.


Watch Dr. Stewart Lowndes’ MLML seminar presentation below:

Natural and anthropogenic carbon cycle interactions: a befuddling muddling of conceptually distinct carbon pools – April 12th, 2018

Andrea Fassbender, MBARI
Moss Landing Marine Labs Seminar Series - April 12th, 2018

Hosted by the Chemical Oceanography Lab

MLML Seminar Room, 4pm

Open to the public

Andrea Fassbender received her undergraduate degree in chemistry at the University of British Columbia (2007) then completed a Graduate Certificate in Climate Science (2009) and earned both her Master’s Degree (2010) and Ph.D. (2014) in Oceanography at the University of Washington. For her postdoc, she collaborated with NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, the Washington State Department of Ecology, and the Washington Ocean Acidification Center to characterize carbonate chemistry throughout Washington’s marine surface waters as a UCAR PACE Postdoctoral Fellow. In 2017, she joined MBARI to lead a group studying marine biogeochemical cycling and the ocean’s role in global climate through the carbon cycle.




Natural and anthropogenic carbon cycle interactions: a befuddling muddling of conceptually distinct carbon pools

Abstract: On thousand-year timescales, the vast majority of anthropogenic carbon will be distributed and stored within the ocean; however, humans are modifying the carbon cycle much more rapidly than the ocean circulates. As a result, large changes in the carbon dioxide (CO2) content of the atmosphere and upper ocean are occurring, as is the amount of carbon stored within land plants. The ocean has absorbed an estimated 30% of the anthropogenic carbon released to the atmosphere since industrialization, and it has long been recognized that the efficiency of ocean CO2 uptake will decline over time due to anticipated, long-term changes in ocean chemistry. What remains less clear is how anthropogenic carbon interacts with natural carbon in the ocean to influence carbon cycle processes occurring on shorter timescales, such as seasons. Thus, a lingering question is: will the modern pattern of ocean CO2 uptake persist? In this talk, I will discuss ways in which natural and anthropogenic carbon interact to modify the fingerprint of marine carbon cycle processes, how this many influence air-sea CO2 exchange, and why this provides further incentive to characterize the biological pump for the sake of global climate projections.

Underwater secrets of the Hayward fault zone: integrated 3D imaging to understand earthquake hazards – April 19th, 2018

Janet Watt, USGS
Moss Landing Marine Labs Seminar Series - April 26th, 2018

Hosted by the Geological Oceanography Lab

MLML Seminar Room, 4pm

Open to the public

Janet Watt received her M.S. in Marine Science (Geological Oceanography) from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in 2004 while working at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, CA. As part of the Geophysical Unit of Menlo Park (GUMP), She used potential-field methods (gravity and magnetics) and 3D geologic mapping to understand earthquake and volcano hazards, and mineral and water resources in the western U.S. In 2010, She returned to her marine geology roots and joined the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, CA where she currently works as a Research Geophysicist.

Her research focuses on characterizing onshore/offshore geologic structure, deformation, and active tectonics to address problems focused on geologic hazards and framework geologic processes. Her recent work involves the development and application of integrative geophysical approaches to 3D characterization of faults and fault interactions.

Underwater secrets of the Hayward fault zone: integrated 3D imaging to understand earthquake hazards

The next major earthquake to strike the ~7 million residents of the San Francisco Bay Area will most likely result from rupture of the Hayward or Rodgers Creek faults. Until now, the relationship between these two faults beneath San Pablo Bay has been a mystery. Detailed subsurface imaging provides definitive evidence of active faulting along the Hayward fault as it traverses San Pablo Bay and bends ~10° to the right toward the Rodgers Creek fault. Integrated geophysical interpretation and kinematic modeling show that the Hayward and Rodgers Creek faults are directly connected at the surface—a geometric relationship that has significant implications for earthquake dynamics and seismic hazard. A direct link enables simultaneous rupture of the Hayward and Rodgers Creek faults, a scenario that could result in a major earthquake (M = 7.4) that would cause extensive damage and loss of life with global economic impact.

Watch Dr. Watt’s MLML seminar presentation below:

Analyzing potential impacts of offshore wind projects off the coast of California – April 26th, 2018

Scott Terrill, HT Harvey and Associates
Moss Landing Marine Labs Seminar Series - April 26th, 2018

Hosted by the Fisheries and Conservation Biology Lab

MLML Seminar Room, 4pm

Open to the public

Scott is a native to the California Bay Area.  He received his B.S. and M.S. in Zoology from Arizona State University and received his Ph.D. from the State University of New York.  His research focused on avian migration and he is a Von Humboldt Fellow of the Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Physiology.  He has observed birds in the California current on hundreds of occasions for over 50 years.  He was the Regional Editor for seabird section for the journal North American Birds for 10 years and coauthored the seabirds section of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Site Characterization.  Currently, he is coauthoring a major study on the near California endemic seabird the Ashy Storm-Petrel.

Scott is Senior Ornithologist and Vice President at H. T. Harvey and Associates, an ecological consulting company started by Tom Harvey, Jim Harvey’s father, nearly 50 years ago.  This consulting group is relatively unique in that, in addition to applied ecology consulting services, it conducts basic research on marine systems funded by NSF, NOAA and others, and the group has contributed over 500 referred scientific publications.


Analyzing Potential Impacts of Offshore Wind Projects off the Coast of California

Significantly reducing carbon-based energy production is critical to mitigate the long-term impacts of anthropogenic induced climate change.  California has a very ambitious renewable energy target for the state.  Sources of renewable energy include solar, wind, hydropower, thermal and marine hydrokinetics (wave and tidal).  Many terrestrial wind projects exist in California and the abundant offshore winds provide a huge potential source of renewable energy.

A number of offshore wind projects exist in Europe and there is one project off the east coast of North America.  These projects are all nearshore projects in shallow water.  The potential for projects off California in deep water over the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) is being considered by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the California Energy Commission. Such projects would use turbines on floating platforms rather than turbines anchored to the ocean bottom.  Whereas some of the information on avian response to nearshore turbines in Europe can be used to inform risk assessments off California, especially nearshore wind projects if proposed, they would have very limited application to turbines off the OCS. The nutrient rich California current is used by large numbers of offshore pelagic birds, many of which disperse long distances to reach it.  Most of these species are quite different from those in nearshore Europe, and in many cases far offshore of Europe as well. I will also discuss the differences between the offshore wind projects in Europe and any proposed off California with respect to landbird migrants over the ocean. Although my specialty is birds, I will touch on potential concerns for some other offshore taxa as well.

I will be discussing some of the fundamental differences in the ocean avian communities in the Atlantic and the Pacific, and how those differences need to be taken into account when approaching risk assessments in the California Current.  Additionally, I will be discussing existing data that can be used to inform risk assessments, remaining data gaps, and possible next steps.

Watch Dr. Terrill’s MLML seminar presentation below:

Up, down & sideways: 4 decades of change in a Monterey kelp forest – May 3rd, 2018

Dr. James Watanabe, Hopkins Marine Station
Moss Landing Marine Labs Seminar Series - May 3rd, 2018

Hosted by the Phycology Lab

MLML Seminar Room, 4pm

Open to the public

Dr. James M. Watanabe received his PhD in zoology from UC Berkeley. His research interests focus on invertebrate zoology and marine ecology, with particular emphasis on kelp forests and rocky intertidal communities. Prior to joining the faculty at Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station in 1994, he directed the research program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium for 10 years.

Dr. Watanabe has conducted research on the distribution and abundance of kelp forest invertebrates, the dynamics of sea urchin-mediated deforestations, and the physiological ecology of kelp . These studies have focused on predator-prey interactions, interspecific competition, and the effects of disturbance on marine organisms. He is also interested in the statistical problems of detecting changes in natural populations through time.

Dr. Watanabe's primary responsibility at Hopkins Marine Station is undergraduate teaching. During winter, spring, and summer quarters he teaches subjects ranging from introductory biology and invertebrate zoology to kelp forest ecology, experimental design, and statistics. His courses attempt to nuture an appreciation for the natural world through accumulation of detailed knowledge and hands-on experience.


Up, down, and sideways: four decades in a Monterey kelp forest

Four decades of observing the kelp forests of the Monterey peninsula have shown me a broad spectrum of variability in both time and space, from unexpected swings in the abundance of some species to near constancy in others.  Witnessing this procession of change has challenged my perceptions as the years have gone by and altered my understanding of how I think these communities function.  I'll present some data and a few thoughts on how massive barnacle settlement, sea star mass mortality, and sea urchin-mediated deforestation in the heart of sea otter country have taught me lessons from the kelp forest.

Watch James Watanabe’s MLML seminar presentation below:

Taking Your Science to Sea: Lessons Learned by a Chief Scientist – May 10th, 2018

Dr. Kenneth Coale, Moss Landing Marine Labs
Moss Landing Marine Labs Seminar Series - May 10th, 2018

Hosted by the Ichthyology Lab

MLML Seminar Room, 4pm

Open to the public

Dr. Kenneth Coale

The oceans, directly or indirectly, play a significant role in controlling almost every biological, physical, geological, climatological, process that occurs in the earth’s biosphere. Due to their vastness and inherent inhospitable nature, they are severely understudied and are now shifting rapidly as a result of climate change. Increasingly, decision makers are turning to marine scientists for guidance in the development and application of solutions to problems affecting them. Oceanographic research should therefore, be an area of rich study. For several reasons, however, the efforts to understand these systems have disproportionately lagged other areas of environmental science. One reason recently identified by the University National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) is the lack of familiarity that many young investigators have with the complex facilities and infrastructure necessary to access and perform research at sea.  In a recent survey, UNOLS also noted that many young investigators have little experience organizing an oceanographic field campaign, are unfamiliar with the observational and sample recovery technologies, and have the belief that such research is too expensive.   In a conversational format, Kenneth Coale will discuss the basic aspects and challenges of using these platforms and share some scientific life-lessons learned from leading over 50 oceanographic cruises on ships large and small.

Watch Kenneth Coale’s presentation below:

Advances in the study of foraging behavior of cetaceans from 3D movement and video tags

David Cade, Hopkins Marine Station
Moss Landing Marine Labs Seminar Series - December 7th, 2017

Hosted by the Phycology Lab

MLML Seminar Room, 4pm

Open to the public

David Cade was an educator (6 years in the outdoors and 6 years in a math classroom) before returning to science to pursue his passions. After earning a master’s degree in education at Stanford University in 2005 and a master’s in oceanography at Oregon State University in 2014, Cade is now in the midst of his Ph.D. work in Jeremy Goldbogen’s lab at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station where he studies the foraging ecology of baleen whales. 

Advances in the study of foraging behavior of cetaceans from 3D movement and video tags

For nearly all of human existence on the sea, our understanding of whales has been limited to what we can observe at the surface. For fully aquatic animals such as these, however, time spent on the surface is really a tiny fraction of the life cycle of these largest predators on the planet. Basic questions about feeding behavior and ecology have only begun to be answered in the last fifteen years with the advent of animal-borne sensors capable of logging cetacean behavior underwater. Only in the last three years have sensors that measure orientation and motion been combined with high-quality video cameras to provide us with a whale's eye view of the feeding events that are so critical to overall population recovery from 20th century lows. These devices have allowed old hypotheses to be tested, and new questions and insights have been generated with every new deployment.

Revealing the microscopic using underwater robotic sensors

Dr. Christina Preston, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Moss Landing Marine Labs Seminar series - November 30th, 2017

Hosted by the Environmental Biotechnology Lab

MLML Seminar Room, 4pm

Open to the public

Chris Preston received her undergraduate degree at James Madison University, PhD at UC Santa Barbara with Ed Delong, and was a Post Doc at Hopkins Marine Station with Dave Epel.  Her early work was mainly describing symbiotic associations between marine invertebrates and bacteria/archaea.  Since joining MBARI over 15 years ago, her focus has shifted more towards studying microbial populations (free-living & particle attached) throughout the water column using in situ instrumentation.

Revealing the microscopic using underwater robotic sensors

One of the long-standing challenges common to studying microorganisms in the environment is acquiring and processing samples.  Traditionally, this has involved shipboard sample collection and laboratory-based analysis.  New in situ sensors combine novel engineering and molecular biological methods and can function underwater longer than the length of research cruises.  This allows scientists to monitor and experiment within the environment in a whole new way.  In this talk, I’ll discuss how the Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) developed by MBARI can address the challenge of sample collection and processing over an extended period under non-traditional laboratory conditions, and its capability to support a variety of downstream molecular detection systems.  I’ll focus on lessons learned from the operation of our 2nd generation ESP, and how that has impacted development of our 3rd generation instrument.

Watch Dr. Preston’s MLML seminar presentation below: