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 Cook attended the Consortium Project Manager meeting, and Dr. Matt Johnston attended the GRIIDC Data Management meeting.

In total, there were seven oral presentations and 11 poster presentations. Isabel Romero (USF) led off DEEPEND presentations on Wednesday morning and discussed her research on bioaccumulation of PAHs in mesopelagic fishes.

Tracey Sutton, Rosanna Milligan, and Estrella Malca (all NSU) chaired Session 17: Out of the blue: what have we learned about the pelagic Gulf of Mexico, what remains unknown, and how can we use the information? NSU Research Associate, Nina Pruzinsky, was the Invited Speaker and addressed environmental drivers affecting the distributions of tuna early life stages in the Gulf. This session also included oral presentations on novel DEEPEND products by Sutton (NSU; DEEPEND oceanic fishes synthesis) and Ron Eytan (TAMUG; deep-pelagic fishes DNA barcode library). Also, Estrella Malca presented results on larval tuna growth between spawning grounds.

DEEPEND had a strong presence at the posters session as well. Genetic and molecular topics were covered by Eytan (TAMUG; molecular evidence of deep-pelagic environmental change), Joe Lopez (NSU; microbial communities reflecting diel vertical migration), and Andrea Bernard (NSU; two posters on genetic discovery of a new anglerfish genus and population genetic dynamics of lanternfish). Rosanna Milligan summarized lanternfish ecology in the Gulf. Ph.D. candidate, Travis Richards (TAMUG), presented his research on food web structure of deep-pelagic micronekton assemblages, and M.S. student, Natalie Slayden (NSU), reviewed data gaps on age and growth of deep-pelagic fishes. Undergraduate student, Austin Boutilier (FAU), summarized barreleye and spookfish populations in the GoM.

DEEPEND-associated presentations included: oral presentations by Steve Murawski (USF; mesopelagic prey/epipelagic predatory fishes connectivity thru diel vertical migration) and Yannis Androulidakis (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki; observations/modeling offshore pathways of Mississippi waters with eddy influence), and poster presentations by Dr. James Ruzicka (OSU; ecosystem model studying vertical exchange processes in the GoM food web) and V.H. Wang (USM; two posters on deep-pelagic ichthyoplankton vertical distribution patterns and community assemblage structure).

Masters students from Dr. Sutton’s NSU Oceanic Ecology Lab (Natalie Slayden, Rachel Eckley, Ryan McGonagle, Drew Mertzlufft, and Brandon Brule) also volunteered at the conference, assisting with the sessions and registration.

At the closing All-Hands Meeting Dr. Sutton, along with Dr. Murawski, presented a synthesis plan for GoMRI Core Area 3 (Ecology). All in all, a very busy and productive 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 the importance of baselines in deep ocean stewardship” and also served as co-chair for the Pelagic Systems session occurring over two separate days. The Pelagic Systems session included oral presentations by Dr. Rosanna Milligan (NSU) on lanternfishes and NSU Master’s student, Ryan Bos, on microplastic ingestion by deep-sea fishes and shrimp. Other oral presentations were given by Drs. Bracken-Grissom and Danielle DeLeo (FIU; deep-sea shrimps), Drs. Joe Lopez and Cole Easson (NSU; bacterioplankton), Ph.D. candidate Travis Richards (TAMUG; deep-pelagic food webs), and M.S. student Sebastian Velez (FAU; pelagic habitat use of juvenile snappers). Poster presentations were given by Dr. Sutton (bathypelagic fish feeding; mesopelagic fish parasites), April Cook (NSU; dragonfish reproduction), Joe Lopez (NSU; bacterial symbionts of anglerfishes), and Dr. Heather Judkins (USF; cephalopods of the Gulf of Mexico).

Florida Atlantic University graduate student, Richard Jones, won two travel awards, which funded his travel to this conference. One award was granted by DEEPEND, using funds from provided by Rock the Ocean’s Tortuga Music Festival. Proceeds from this event were donated back to the non-profit organizations (like DEEPEND), who participated in this educational and entertaining event. The other travel award was granted to Richard for winning Best Student Poster at the FAU Environmental Sciences Program retreat. We are very proud to announce that Richard’s poster presented in the Pelagic Systems session won Best Student Poster by the Judge’s Committee! The poster was entitled “Ecology of the barracudinas (Paralepididae) in the Gulf of Mexico.” The Deep-Sea Biology Society awarded him a one year membership and a £100 cash prize. You can read more about his experience on Richard’s blog here. You can read the abstracts for these posters on the Deep-Sea Biology Symposium website or go directly to the pdf here.



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 level when possible. The stomach contents were in surprisingly good condition with many species successfully identified. There were multiple midwater fishes and cephalopods that were discovered which shows a strong link between the two groups by way of predator/prey interactions.

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 represented at the event and attendees enjoyed a welcome reception at The Florida Aquarium, field trips around the region, and a final CIAC Celebration banquet in Gulfport, FL. During the week, Dr. Judkins was also elected the next CIAC president until 2021 at the next conference which will be held in Portugal. Overall, it was a great success! For more information about the conference or the CIAC organization, please visit

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! 


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!

Travis sorts through Neuston net samples looking for the Sargassum frogfish (<em>Histrio histrio</em>) aboard the R/V Point Sur. (Provided by DEEPEND)

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 higher trophic levels. His research will help expand our understanding of the deep-pelagic habitat and serve as a reference point for future studies and response efforts.

The GoMRI community embraces bright and dedicated students like Travis Richards and their important contributions. The GoMRI Scholars Program recognizes graduate students whose work focuses on GoMRI-funded projects and builds community for the next generation of ocean science professionals.

Travis's work is a feature story on the GoMRI website.  Read about it here

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 (GoMRI Research Board Member)
John Quinlan (NOAA NMFS SEFSC – NRDA water column assessment)
Steve Murawski (USF; C-IMAGE I-III PI; epipelagic top predator collaboration)
Kelly Robinson (ULL; RFP VI co-PI – Deep-pelagic zooplankton)
Jim Ruzicka (OSU, RFP VI co-PI – ecosystem modeling)
Verena Wang (USM: – Deep-pelagic zooplankton, larval fish time-series)
Eric Weissberger (NOAA NMFS Monitoring and Adaptive Management)
Chuck Wilson (GoMRI Chief Science Officer)

We thank all participants who joined us in this synthesis effort.  The meeting was recorded and will be transcribed for a report.

The meeting agenda can be downloaded here.