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What is DEEPEND?

The DEEPEND (Deep Pelagic Nekton Dynamics of the Gulf of Mexico) Consortium is a 105-member, 19-institution research initiative to characterize the oceanic ecosystem of the northern Gulf of Mexico to infer baseline conditions in the water column. The deep-pelagic represents both the largest and the most understudied habitat on Earth. Although evidence has shown that the surface and deep community assemblages are linked, the exact pathways and linkages remain primarily undiscovered. In 2010, the Gulf of Mexico experienced the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (DWHOS). Although portions of oil made it to the surface while others were dispersed, all of the oil was at one point present in the water column, interacting with the pelagic community. The full extent of the DWHOS’s effects on the pelagic community is still not known. Starting in 2015, DEEPEND began a five-year sampling, sensing, modeling, and laboratory analysis program assessing ecosystem dynamics, identifying drivers of variability, and investigating consequences of the spill on ecosystem attributes. The obtained data establishes a time-series with which one can detect natural and anthropogenic changes. To find out more about our mission, our research, or the animals of the deep Gulf of Mexico, dive into the rest of the DEEPEND website!

 

DEEPEND News

DEEPEND scientist to give NOAA webinar: The open ocean Gulf of Mexico: what have we learned about this remarkable pelagic ecosystem?

09 October 2020
DEEPEND scientist to give NOAA webinar: The open ocean Gulf of Mexico: what have we learned about this remarkable pelagic ecosystem?

DEEPEND-RESTORE Director and Scientist Dr. Tracey Sutton will give a NOAA webinar on October 27th and 12:00PM EST titled: "DEEPEND scientist to give NOAA Seminar: The open ocean Gulf of Mexico: what have we learned about this remarkable pelagic ecosystem?" See the announcement and link to participate here: https://www.nodc.noaa.gov/seminars/

DEEPEND scientist authors guide to South Atlantic mesopelagic fishes to inform fisheries management

09 October 2020
DEEPEND scientist authors guide to South Atlantic mesopelagic fishes to inform fisheries management

Renowned taxonomists (including DEEPEND-RESTORE Director, Dr. Tracey Sutton), scientific illustrator, experts and editors take on the challenge of mesopelagic fish identification. Click here to see the announcement from the EAF-Nansen Programme

DEEPEND | RESTORE

20 May 2020
DEEPEND | RESTORE

Dr. Tracey Sutton (Lead Investigator), along with 11 other Principle Investigators, has recently received funding to lead a deep-sea pelagic research project in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) RESTORE Science Program. The research team will investigate the trends and drivers of pelagic community structure and abundance, from the sea surface to ~ 1 mile deep (1500 m), in the north central Gulf of Mexico. The project will run from 2019 to 2024, with the...

INTO THE DEEP Book Published

15 May 2020
INTO THE DEEP Book Published

The newly published book Into the Deep: Science, Technology, and the Quest to Protect the Ocean, by Christy Peterson, demonstrates the ways in which researchers utilize technology to understand and mitigate the harmful effects of human activities on the oceans. The book is divided into two sections: the first section, The Physical Ocean, addresses climate change, sea level rise, ocean mapping, global circulation, and hypoxia, while the second section, The Living Ocean, discusses specific organis...

Frontiers in Marine Science: Special Edition

28 April 2020
Frontiers in Marine Science: Special Edition

A Special Issue of Frontiers in Marine Science is being published about the results of DEEPEND’s research over the past five years. The special issue will be titled: Deep Pelagic Ecosystem Dynamics in a Highly Impacted Water Column: The Gulf of Mexico After Deepwater Horizon. The special edition will begin with a description of DEEPEND’s aims, approaches, and rationale for studying the patterns and processes of the oceanic Gulf of Mexico in relation to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and then fo...

10 years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

20 April 2020
10 years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Today (April 20, 2020) marks the 10th year since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. Approximately 5 million barrels of hydrocarbons (oil) spilled into the Gulf for 87 days following the explosion, and since then, DEEPEND (along with several other consortia) have been researching the effects that the oil spill had on the Gulf’s entire ecosystem. Oil reached the seafloor, the open-ocean water column, coastal areas, continental shelf regions, and even was found in marsh...

Grad Student Slayden Knows Age is More Than a Number for Oil-Exposed Deep-Sea Fishes

13 April 2020
Grad Student Slayden Knows Age is More Than a Number for Oil-Exposed Deep-Sea Fishes

The DEEPEND Consortium's master’s student/Graduate Research Assistant, Natalie Slayden, was named a GOMRI scholar at the beginning of this year and her work is now featured on the GOMRI website: “The ocean’s deep-pelagic ecosystem is the largest and least understood habitat on Earth. In the Gulf of Mexico, it was the largest ecosystem affected by the Deepwater Horizon incident. Because there was very limited pre-spill data about deep-pelagic organisms’ biodiversity, abundance, and distribution,...

DEEPEND at the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference

23 January 2020
DEEPEND at the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference

DEEPEND will be heading to the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference from February 3-6, 2020, in Tampa, FL. We will be represented by 18 talks and 6 posters. Our team will be presenting data on a wide range of topics, such as: faunal trends and baselines, drivers of pelagic ecosystems, indicators of petrogenic contamination, faunal inventories, open-ocean restoration, and education and outreach. We also have three PIs chairing sessions: Dr. Tracey Sutton (Session 2), Dr. R...

Dr. Tracey Sutton Awarded the 2019 NSU Provost's Research and Scholarship Award

06 January 2020
Dr. Tracey Sutton Awarded the 2019 NSU Provost's Research and Scholarship Award

For the second time in NSU history, there were two Provost’s Research and Scholarship Award winners. Nova Southeastern University (NSU) Executive Vice President and Interim Provost Ron Chenail, Ph.D., presented Mariana Morris, Ph.D., and Tracey Sutton, Ph.D each with the 9th Annual Provost’s Research and Scholarship Award. The purpose of the award is to recognize a faculty member who has demonstrated significant achievement in support of NSU's mission to foster scholarship, intellectual inquiry...

Deepesh Tourani Thesis Defense - Inferred Function and Dynamics of Microbial Communities from Northern Gulf of Mexico

02 November 2019
Deepesh Tourani Thesis Defense - Inferred Function and Dynamics of Microbial Communities from Northern Gulf of Mexico

Deepesh Tourani As part of the DEEPEND Consortium, our laboratory has been characterizing the microbial community composition and structure in the northern Gulf of Mexico (NGoM) pelagic waters using modern molecular ecology methods. We had previously sequenced a large cache of 16S rRNA gene data, which included 466 samples from two cruises in 2016 (May: DP03, August: DP04). To enhance taxonomic identifications, Mr. Tourani's MS thesis in Jose Lopez's laboratory at Nova Southeastern University h...

Dr. Isabel Romero Awarded 2019 Early-Career Research Fellowships by National Academies’ Gulf Research Program

03 September 2019

DEEPEND researcher Dr. Isabel Romero awarded 2019 Early-Career Research Fellowships by National Academies’ Gulf Research Program. Read more here.

Grad Student Pruzinsky Uses Morphological Patterns to ID Young Tuna for Population Assessments

07 August 2019
Grad Student Pruzinsky Uses Morphological Patterns to ID Young Tuna for Population Assessments

The DEEPEND Consortium's Research Associate Nina Pruzinsky, M.S. was recently named a GOMRI scholar and her work is now featured on the GOMRI website: "The Deepwater Horizon oil spill overlapped with the spawning activities of many ecologically and economically important tuna species. However, the significant knowledge gap regarding early life stage tuna taxonomy and distribution makes it difficult to understand how the spill may have affected them. As a graduate student, Nina Pruzinsky examine...

DEEPEND participates in a historic expedition: video of a live giant squid in the Gulf of Mexico!

05 July 2019

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DEEPEND Photo Featured on Cover of Science Magazine

31 May 2019
DEEPEND Photo Featured on Cover of Science Magazine

The DEEPEND Consortium just had an image from their field work make the cover of one of the most significant scientific journals in the world - Science. Dr. Fenolio took the image during one of the research cruises out on the Gulf of Mexico. The deep-sea fish featured on the cover possesses highly modified eyes and the article in the journal depicts how some deep-sea fishes can see in color (it was thought they were color-blind, only seeing shades of blue). More on the fish featured on the cove...

DEEPEND Display at the USFSP Nelson Poynter Library

23 April 2019
DEEPEND Display at the USFSP Nelson Poynter Library

On April 18th, an art exhibit was opened at the Nelson Poynter Library on the USFSP campus to highlight work that USF System researchers have been conducting related to the DWH oil spill. DEEPEND and C-Image scientists gathered with the public to discuss current findings and answer questions related to our work. It was a fantastic opportunity to share our science and link it through the arts which included twenty images taken by Dante Fenolio for the DEEPEND portion of the exhibit.

Come see DEEPEND this weekend at Rock The Ocean’s Tortuga Music Festival in Conservation Village!

11 April 2019
Come see DEEPEND this weekend at Rock The Ocean’s Tortuga Music Festival in Conservation Village!

DEEPEND will be joining several other non-profit organizations focused on ocean conservation to educate fans and promote ways to save our oceans. The festival will take place in the sand on Fort Lauderdale Beach this weekend April 12-14. Fans will be able to learn about life in the deep-sea and the creatures that live there by playing some interactive games and conversing with our outreach coordinators. They will also have a chance to share their knowledge on social media in our photo booth whi...

DEEPEND members attended and presented their research at the seventh Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science (GOMOSES) Conference

21 February 2019
DEEPEND members attended and presented their research at the seventh Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science (GOMOSES) Conference

DEEPEND members attended and presented their research at the seventh Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science (GOMOSES) Conference held in New Orleans, LA, from February 4-7, 2019. This year’s conference theme was “Minding the Gaps: Research Priorities for Response, Restoration, and Resilience.” DEEPEND’s participation began with Director Dr. Tracey Sutton giving a presentation at the “Responding to Future Deep Oil Spills - Fighting the Next War” Workshop on Monday. On Tuesday, April Co...

DEEPEND makes a splash at the 15th Deep-Sea Biology Conference

12 February 2019
DEEPEND makes a splash at the 15th Deep-Sea Biology Conference

Members of the DEEPEND Consortium presented their research at the 15th Deep-Sea Biology Symposium held in Monterey, CA September 9-14, 2018. This conference is held every three years and organized by the Deep-Sea Biology Society, brings deep-sea researchers from all over the world together to share their findings and discoveries. There were seven DEEPEND oral presentations and eight poster presentations. Our DEEPEND Consortium Director, Dr. Tracey Sutton (NSU), gave a plenary talk, entitled “On...

DEEPEND and C-Image collaborate to examine trophic links in the northern Gulf of Mexico

01 December 2018
DEEPEND and C-Image collaborate to examine trophic links in the northern Gulf of Mexico

DEEPEND and C-Image researchers (T. Sutton, S. Murawski, H. Judkins, I. Romero and others) met in December to process pelagic fishes that were collected during a C-Image longline cruise that occurred in August in order to examine the possible linkages between these fast, deep-diving fishes to the midwater organisms that are the focus of DEEPEND research. Over 45 fish stomachs (including Lancetfish, Swordfish, Silky Shark, and others) were examined and contents were identified to the species lev...

Oceanic Ecology Lab Featured on the History Channel

28 August 2018
Oceanic Ecology Lab Featured on the History Channel

On August 3rd, 2018 Dr. Tracey Sutton's Oceanic Ecology lab at Nova Southeastern University was featured on the new series "In Search Of" on the History Channel with host Zachary Quinto. Check out this episode about the deep sea!! You will learn about a new snaggletooth species (Astronesthes) discovered through DEEPEND's research!

Life Aboard a Research Ship

07 August 2018
Life Aboard a Research Ship

One of the DEEPEND team members, Dante Fenolio, our resident photographer, conducted a series of short videos during our recent cruise highlighting "Life Aboard a Research Ship" through his Facebook page. If you're interested about the many pieces it takes to make a research cruise successful, check out the 20 or so video clips! Many of the Point Sur crew and the DEEPEND science team discuss their roles while onboard. Enjoy!

Grad Student Richards Uses Fish Muscle Tissue to Explore Deep-Sea Food Web Structure

12 July 2018
Grad Student Richards Uses Fish Muscle Tissue to Explore Deep-Sea Food Web Structure

The deep-pelagic habitat (200 m depth to just above the seabed) is the largest habitat in the Gulf of Mexico, yet we know very little about it compared to coastal and shallow-water habitats. Our limited understanding of this major marine habitat makes it extremely difficult to assess the effects of disturbances such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Travis Richards seeks to better understand the structure of deep-pelagic food webs by tracing the energy flow from the food web base through high...

First DEEPEND Synthesis Workshop

16 May 2018
First DEEPEND Synthesis Workshop

The DEEPEND Consortium held it's first Synthesis Workshop at NSU's Guy Harvey Oceanographic Center in Dania Beach Florida on May 14th-15th, 2018. The workshop was well-attended by 50 consortia members, students, and affiliated scientists, including the following external participants: Stacy Calhoun (ULL; Deep-pelagic zooplankton) Kait Frasier (SIO; Marine mammal collaboration) Dean Grubbs (FSU; Deep-demersal predator collaboration) Dan Hahn (NOAA Office of Response and Restoration) Bill Hogarth...

DEEPEND scientist narrates a deep-pelagic NOAA Okeanos dive in the Gulf

29 April 2018
DEEPEND scientist narrates a deep-pelagic NOAA Okeanos dive in the Gulf

Saturday, April 28th, DEEPEND team member, Heather Judkins, narrated the midwater transect portion of the NOAA Okeanos dive which is part of a cruise currently being conducted in the Gulf of Mexico which ends on May 3rd. Tracey Sutton was also part of the shore-based scientific team, identifying the various fish species that were seen. We had amazing sightings from siphonophores to fishes to even cephalopods! The goal of the Okeanos cruises are to explore new areas of both benthic and midwater...

DEEPEND Conference Presentations and Seminars

23 March 2018
DEEPEND Conference Presentations and Seminars

Nova Southeastern University kicked off the conference program for the year by hosting a two-day Graduate Student Symposium, which featured seven great talks from DEEPEND’s principle investigators and graduate students. Presentations included: genomic analysis of microbial symbionts found in deep-sea in anglerfish lures and in the water column of the Gulf of Mexico (Lopez et al.), the trophic ecology of a bathypelagic fish family (tubeshoulders, Novotny et al.), ingestion of microplastics by dee...

Rock the Ocean’s Tortuga Musical Festival

02 March 2018
Rock the Ocean’s Tortuga Musical Festival

From April 6-8, 2018, DEEPEND members will be attending Rock the Ocean’s Tortuga Musical Festival at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. DEEPEND members will have a booth at the Conservation Village, which will be located in between the two stages. Our booth will have deep-sea trivia and prizes! Come win some glow-in-the-dark tattoos! A DEEPEND t-shirt raffle will be held each day as well. Stop by and talk to several graduate students and professors about our research during...

The DEEPEND timeline, illustrating the diversity of life in the Gulf of Mexico

10 January 2018
The DEEPEND timeline, illustrating the diversity of life in the Gulf of Mexico

The DEEPEND timeline was conceived by world-class photographer Danté Fenolio as a platform through which the DEEPEND team could convey the biodiversity that they have encountered in the Gulf of Mexico to the general public. So much amazing biodiversity turned up in the trawling nets that we figured there had to be a way to show it all off. The timeline allowed for a progression through the different cruise trawls and it allowed for a photographic display that we don't think has been developed or...

DEEPEND Co-PI coordinated the triennial Cephalopod Conference in November

28 December 2017
DEEPEND Co-PI coordinated the triennial Cephalopod Conference in November

Heather Judkins was thrilled to coordinate the triennial CIAC Conference in St. Petersburg, FL in November. CIAC (Cephalopod International Advisory Council Conference) was formed in 1983 to promote the sharing of cephalopod research around the world. This CIAC conference drew 230 scientists to the region for two-day practical application workshops as well as the five-day conference with over 100 oral presentations, 18 Lightning talks, and 150 Poster presentations. There were 30 countries represe...

Master's Monday Blog Series

06 November 2017

DEEPEND Starts the Master’s Monday Blog Series We are beginning a blog series which will feature DEEPEND Master’s students and their thesis’ projects. Every other Monday we will post a new blog from one of our graduate students describing their research and what they have found thus far. The blogs will have exciting images related to their work from the field or in the lab. Our very first Master’s student to post a blog was Kristine Clark, a Master’s student at the University of South Florida St...

DEEPEND display booth at their Sea Life Facility

02 November 2017
DEEPEND display booth at their Sea Life Facility

Texas A&M University has created a DEEPEND display booth at their Sea Life Facility. This booth allows visitors to learn about deep-sea and epipelagic research through posters, interactive educational games, and educational information hand-outs. Hundreds of visitors (including grade school children, senior citizen groups, new students and parents, undergraduate and graduate students) get to view and interact with the DEEPEND booth each year.

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Today (April 20, 2020) marks the 10th year since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. Approximately 5 million barrels of hydrocarbons (oil) spilled into the Gulf for 87 days following the explosion, and since then, DEEPEND (along with several other consortia) have been researching the effects that the oil spill had on the Gulf’s entire ecosystem. Oil reached the seafloor, the open-ocean water column, coastal areas, continental shelf regions, and even was found in marshes and estuaries. “It was an entire Gulf of Mexico-wide event,” Dr. Tracey Sutton said in an interview with Oceana.

Often, people remember the oil that was visible at the surface; however, it’s important to know that 100% of the oil occurred within the water column and affected life throughout the entire ecosystem, especially in the poorly-studied deep pelagic environment ( > 200 m depth) where the Macondo wellhead broke (~1500 m depth).

“As far as we know, the actual impact of the spill is not over yet,” Dr. Tracey Sutton explained in Oceana’s interview.

In another interview with the Independent, Dr. Sutton stated, “In 2017, we were still finding oil contaminants in the eggs [of deep-sea organisms] above levels known to be sublethal for animals. We also saw an overall decline in animal numbers.”

With industry drilling deeper for resources, the risk of another spill occurring increases. Dr. Sutton told the Independent, “another deepwater spill is still very much a real possibility.”

Photo by: U.S. Coast Guard—Reuters/Landov