Most EEL projects involve development and/or use of low-cost technologies for studying the ecology of benthic marine organisms and habitats or for marine science education. Some of our active (i.e., ongoing) and past EEL projects are featured below.
The Carmel Submarine Canyon (CSC) is a side branch of the well-known Monterey Submarine Canyon. The Carmel Canyon’s head supports an amazing range of microhabitats and fascinating marine life. It is also located near shore, where it is accessible for student projects. In late 2013, we kicked off a long-term ecological study of this area to a depth of 150 meters (500 feet). We are using ROVs and small in-situ instrumentation platforms developed in the EEL with funding from NSF’s Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations for this research. This photo was taken by our student-built Ulithi ROV. It shows a red gorgonian coral and bat star living on a rocky slope in the Carmel Submarine Canyon.
Benthic ecology of Market Squid eggs
The EEL is collaborating with the Gilly Lab at Hopkins Marine Station to develop and deploy underwater camera systems to record mating and egg-laying behavior of Market Squid, Doryteuthis opalescens, off Cannery Row. This area is occasionally inundated by pulses of hypoxic (low-oxygen) water from deeper off shore. CSUMB’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC) has provided EEL with a precision oxygen sensor mounted to the cameras, so EEL students can study how these low oxygen pulses affect the behavior of the squid and the survival of their eggs. Funding from C-DEBI and from a CSU Faculty Support Grant for Engaging Undergraduates in Coursework Related Research has enabled the EEL, in partnership with CSUMB's MSCI 437: Ocean Instrumentation Projects (4 units) (Ocean Instrumentation Projects) class, to construct and deploy two SquidPod Camera Systems. In this photo, captured by one of our SquidPods, you can see squid breeding above their egg capsules.
For countless generations, the people of Ulithi Atoll in Micronesia have obtained enough food and water from their islands and coral reefs to sustain their traditional culture. But changes brought about by WWII, sea level rise, and a gradual loss of traditional knowledge have made sustainability more difficult. In 2013, and again in 2015, EEL students were invited to join a team of dedicated reef ecologists, fisheries scientists, and native Ulithi islanders who are working together to better understand and manage Ulithi's living marine resources. The collaboration is called One People, One Reef. The EEL developed and used specialized ROVs and camera stations to gather information about fish populations and coral reef health from parts of Ulithi’s fore reefs and inner lagoon that are otherwise too deep to access for study. In this photo, fishermen from the Ulithi island of Falalop use a net to capture reef fish for food.
Pulley Ridge expedition
During the summer of 2015, EEL students Lauren Boye and Samantha Whitney joined Professor Moore and other scientists on an 11-day oceanographic cruise to characterize the biodiversity of Pulley Ridge, which is believed to be the deepest coral reef in U.S. waters. Using EEL's "Ulithi ROV," they obtained video footage of fish and invertebrates in water about 60 m (200 feet) deep in the Gulf of Mexico. The work was done in collaboration with two other teams on the cruise: an AUV team headed up by Dr. Arne Diercks (University of Southern Mississippi) operating the autonomous underwater survey vehicle "Mola mola" and a technical diving team lead by Dr. Marc Slattery (University of Mississippi) using rebreathers. Working together, the three groups conducted detailed surveys of several distinct sites.