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As the MOC comes up....., Heather Judkins

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We are in the home stretch for this DEEPEND cruise with only one trawl left to process on our last day out here at sea.  This cruise has been just as productive as every other trip we have conducted with lots of hard work, long hours, and rewarding finds!  Here are some fun facts from our six cruises out here in the Gulf of Mexico:

We have found great diversity of species for the major taxa:  61 cephalopod species, 120 crustacean species and 627 fish species!  These are important numbers as in the past the midwater habitat was not considered a particularly diverse region.

Here are the winners for the most abundant animal in each category:

Most abundant fish:  Cyclothone sp.

Most abundant crustacean:  Euphausiids

Most abundant cephalopod:  Pterygioteuthis sp. (P. gemmata and P.giardi)

b2ap3_thumbnail_DP04-14AUG16-MOC10-BO64N-074-N0-Cyclothone-obscura-Image-No2-LRM-.jpg     b2ap3_thumbnail_Euphausiid-Dante.jpg

b2ap3_thumbnail_Pterygioteuthis-Squid-No1-Image-No1-DP01-01MAY15-MOC10-B001D-001-N4--2015-DEEPEND--Dant-Fenolio_20180802-013358_1.jpg

 With regards to operations, here’s what we know:

Number of miles traveled:  ~6496 miles on the R/V Point Sur out here in the big blue!

Total number of MOC trawls successfully deployed and retrieved:  122

Total number of hours the MOC was in the water:  671 hours

We have 1764 hours of acoustics data collected.

We have ~40,000 species and team photos from Dante Fenolio’s efforts.

b2ap3_thumbnail_P7260109.JPGPhoto:  Acoustics attached to the MOC for deployment

What have we found so far?  We have found five cephalopod species and more than 20 species of fish that are new to science (descriptions are in the works) and we have approximately 180 fish species that are new records for the Gulf.  We have found that each time out here, we have been surprised about how changeable the water conditions have been as we go down the water column- from moving across eddy features to observing and documenting the outward flow of the Mississippi River.  We have found that hard work is exhausting but absolutely rewarding as we have so much science to share with all that we have found so far!  We have been able to support more than 30 students, research technicians, and post docs through the DEEPEND program to date.  This has been essential to maintaining our productivity for the last four years.

So, how has all of this amazing science been possible?  We give a HUGE thank you to NOAA/NRDA and GoMRI for this opportunity to explore this unknown region of the Gulf.  We now have eight years of continuous data in the same region, using the same methods which allows us to explore connections, gaps, and patterns that occur within and between these depth layers.

We also thank Captain Nic and the crew of the R/V Point Sur for their tireless work to keep our science moving each and every cruise.  We wouldn’t have any science to share without you guys along the way! Thank you!

b2ap3_thumbnail_Sunrise-by-the-drone-26-July-2018-Image-No1-LR-M.jpg

Each DEEPEND team member wants to thank their home institutions for their support for this effort over the last four years.  These cruises have an extremely surprising and enlightening endeavor and we have lots more science to report on from these efforts.  We expect to have research output and publications continuing for at least the next ten years.  Where would we be without Matt Johnston, our data manger and land connection while on our cruises?  Thanks to him for all his efforts!  April Cook, our rockstar project manager has kept us all in line for the last four years and continues to do so, thank you!  And, we can’t go without thanking our amazing director, Tracey Sutton- his work ethic combined with humor has allowed us all to grow as a team over the years, thanks, Tracey!!

 b2ap3_thumbnail_tracey-and-april.jpg      b2ap3_thumbnail_Traceys-mahi-IMG_0559.JPG

Photos:  April and Tracey sorting a sample; Tracey with a Mahi

Keep checking in on us for more news, publications, and highlights from the DEEPEND science team as we continue to “fish for answers”….  Until we sail again!

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Dr. Heather Judkins is an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. She received a Bachelors degree in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island, Masters degree in Science Education from Nova Southeastern University and her PhD in Biological Oceanography from the University of South Florida. Her research focuses on understanding the evolution, ecology, and biogeography of cephalopods with a main focus currently in the Wider Caribbean. Her role in this project includes the identification of deep-sea cephalopods, examining genetic diversity, and analysis of cephalopod ecology and distribution in the water column.

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Guest Friday, 14 December 2018