National Geographic : 1990 Feb
animals congregate. The distribution of small fish is often determined by the presence of siphonophores. We could never have discov ered that without submersibles." At 700 meters we catch a glimpse of a squid. Then it's time to go home. With lights out again to save energy, the world outside spar kles like the sky on an incredibly black night. A million beacons of life aglow. So much of the living space on our planet is like this-frigid and dark. Yet life goes on here, no less inven tively than up top. Such a zoo! Although excursions into the canyon are at the forefront of research, life in the upper reaches of Monterey Bay poses unsolved mys teries. Many of the marine mammals that abound in the bay remain poorly understood. One of the most celebrated is the gray whale. Each winter tourists by the boatloads brave the stomach-churning seas to watch the great migrating beasts glide past. If lucky they might also see a killer whale. In summer and fall blue and humpback whales are lured into the deep waters of the bay. "This is one of the best places in the world to watch marine mammals," says Nancy Black, a biologist at Moss Landing Marine Laborato ries. "Whales, porpoises, dolphins, seals, sea lions, sea otters-they're all here. Unfortu nately, they're hard to study. The weather's often so bad." Take today, for example. We were to cruise With a temper to match his name, Stormy the elephant seal foils efforts to attach a time depth recorder by Dan Costa of the University of California, Santa Cruz. Elephant seals hold the record among marine mammals for deep diving, reach ing more than 1,250 meters. Aquarium biologists Mark Ferguson and Freya Sommer col lect algae and sea stars in a tide pool. Here Ed Ricketts worked in what he called "possibly the most prolific life zone in the world."