Steve Haddock, Scientist
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Moss Landing, CA

Presentation Title: Life in the Deep Sea: Only the Fragile Survive

The deep ocean is the largest living space on Earth, abundant with diverse alien-looking life forms despite the fact that it is dark, cold, has limited resources and exerts high pressures. In response to these environmental challenges and unique ecological constraints, organisms have evolved a variety of forms and functions including transparent dome eye covers, cloaks of invisibility, and the ability to communicate by making bioluminescent light. Because there are few surfaces, morphologies have diversified in unconstrained manner resulting in 40-meter long jellies and diaphanous comb jellies that propel themselves with eyelash-like cilia. Many of these deep-sea species are not yet described, and current research involves understanding the diversity and relationships of these animals, as well as the genetic underpinnings of their unique bio-optical properties. Although they are obscure even to marine biologists and live in some of most unexplored habitats on the planet, these animals actually can occur as close as a few kilometers from a large city. This paradox underscores how much we have yet to learn about life on this planet.

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Research Interests

Steve is working on deep-sea gelatinous zooplankton. He is doing research on bioluminescence, biodiversity, and ecology of deep-sea and open-ocean ctenophores, siphonophores, radiolarians, and medusae. In addition to assembling phylogenies for these groups, he is interested in cloning novel photoproteins and fluorescent proteins from these jellies.

Recent Publications

Links and PDFs for many of Dr. Haddock’s recent publications are available on his website:  The following papers may be of particular interest:

Osborn, K.J., S.H.D. Haddock, F. Pleijel, L.P. Madin, and G.W. Rouse (2009) Deep-sea, swimming worms with luminescent "bombs". Science. 325:964.

Flamboyant, deep-sea worms discovered off Oregon’s coast. Joe Rojas-Burke, The Oregonian, August 20, 2009

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Haddock, S.H.D., C.W. Dunn, P.R. Pugh. and C.E. Schnitzler. (2005) Bioluminescent and red-fluorescent lures in a deep-sea siphonophore. Science. 309:263. Includes links to a pdf of the article, a New York Times article, an NPR story and background information on Dr. Haddock’s website

Resources for Teaching

Bioluminescence 2009: Living Light on the Deep Sea Floor Expedition

An expedition to study bioluminescence on the deep sea floor off the Bahamas.  Dr. Haddock was on this expedition.  The site includes text, photo and video logs, information about bioluminescence and vision, and educational materials.  Read Dr. Haddock’s piece on bioluminescence

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Bioluminescence Webpage

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From Sea and Sky
General background information on bioluminescence and a deep-sea creature database with pictures and general information about species

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