The DEEPEND program has provided the opportunities for collaboration in so many areas over the last four years! In the education and outreach arena, we have been working with the Oregon Coast Aquarium (http://aquarium.org/education/oceanscape-network/) who highlights DEEPEND work and created our DEEPEND Vertical Distribution poster. This collaboration was made possible by one of our EO team members, Ruth Musgrave, who oversees our K-6 education components. We have worked with middle and high school teachers from Florida to Texas through our Teacher-At-Sea program and have remained in contact with many of them years after their at-sea experiences. We have also collaborated through community efforts such as the St. Petersburg Science Festival where both DEEEPEND and C-Image consortia shared space to enlighten children and adults about our offshore projects through interactive games and question and answer sessions.
Photos: DEEPEND Vertical Migration Poster and 2) C-IMAGE II and DEEPEND teams at the St. Petersburg Science Festival
Throughout the four years, our research efforts have also expanded outside of our consortium and other GoMRI groups. For example, in my case, I have been collaborating with other cephalopod researchers around the world about things we are discovering here in the GoM. From new species descriptions to future publications, I have truly benefitted from the DEEPEND work we have conducted to date!
One exciting new collaboration is the alignment of DEEPEND and C-Image III (http://www.marine.usf.edu/c-image/) consortia to tackle an existing gap in the offshore datasets we’ve been collecting. If you look to the DEEPEND shiptracker on our website, you will see the stations we are visiting for our MOC10 sampling work. What is great is that on August 10th, the C-IMAGE III team will head out to the same stations we’ve visited to conduct their longlining project. A total of 36 pelagic longline sets will be made with two gear sets per station (one during daylight and a second at night). This add-on longline survey will evaluate the abundance, food habits, and population demography of the predators, to take tissue samples for toxicology studies, and to evaluate the stomach fullness, species composition and to obtain genetic samples of prey items.
Photo: C_IMAGE III Director, Steve Murwawski catching a Red Snapper on a previous C-IMAGE cruise
Basically, C-IMAGE III will be collecting stomachs for a subsest of our consortia teams to examine to attempt to fill the gap of knowledge between our deep-sea organisms and their large pelagic fishes. What is the gap? Food web connections are difficult as there are many, many variables involved with who eats whom, when does everybody eat, at what depth are they eating, etc. If we can connect the DEEPEND organisms with these more shallow top predators, we will gain a better sense of the energy transfer that occurs between these two groups. We will be working with this new project when everyone is back on land and in the labs!