Dr. Tracey Sutton discusses the goals of the DEEPEND consortium at the 2017 GOMOSES conference in New Orleans, LA.

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) has funded several research efforts related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, including the DEEPEND (Deep Pelagic Nekton Dynamics) research consortium (80 members at 11 institutions, led by Nova Southeastern University) and the DTOX (Deep-sea Risk Assessment and Species Sensitivity) project, also featuring NSU scientists. The DTOX group has been conducting a series of laboratory studies using both individual hydrocarbons and bulk oil samples to understand petroleum toxicity to several ecologically important deep-sea micronekton species. Recently, a group of 20 students (ages 8-13) from American Heritage School Science Camp visited the Marine Toxicology Laboratory and the Oceanic Ecology Laboratory at Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center. During the visit, students learned about animals found in the deep ocean from two DEEPEND graduate students, Nina Pruzinsky and Mike Novotny, in Dr. Tracey Sutton’s lab, before seeing an active toxicity experiment. The campers then aided in data collection for one of the hourly mortality readings by viewing the deep-sea crustaceans being exposed to petroleum hydrocarbons. As an added benefit, a tour of the facility and discussion about coral reefs and marine pollution also took place. DEEPEND was happy to be a part of their experience and to expose these campers to animals rarely seen from the deep ocean.

This month, a number of DEEPEND researchers travelled to Austin to take part in the 2017 Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (JMIH). This annual conference is the premier ichthyological meeting in the US, and is organized by four ecological societies (the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists; the American Elasmobranch Society; the Herpetologists’ League; and the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles), to bring a diverse range of scientists together to share their research and expertise. 

As with the GOMOSES meeting in February, the DEEPEND consortium was very well represented with a total of eight presentations! Of these, six were given by DEEPEND students, which is a great achievement for them and for the consortium. Our presentations covered a diverse range of topics relating to the ecological and taxonomic work we’ve been doing to understand the diversity of fishes that live in the Gulf of Mexico, their life histories, and how they make use of their environment. Three of our presentations explored the trophic ecology and parasite fauna of pelagic fishes, including a study of Sargassum frogfish in the surface waters (Martinez et al.), a study of hatchetfishes, myctophids and dragonfishes in the mesopelagic realm (Woodstock et al.) and a study of the strange “tube-shoulder fishes” (Platytroctidae) that inhabit the bathypelagic realm (Novotny et al.). We also presented talks discussing how juvenile tunas (Pruzinsky & Sutton), and how snappers and groupers (Velez & Moore) are distributed across the surface waters of the Gulf of Mexico; and how the abundances (Richards et al.) and biodiversity (Milligan and Sutton) of our dominant mesopelagic fishes change in response to major oceanographic features in the Gulf. Finally, Tracey Sutton presented a summary of the enormous biodiversity of fishes that we’ve collected and identified so far, which includes an incredible 180 new records of fish that have never been captured in the Gulf of Mexico before!

Of course there’s no rest for the wicked, and next month we’ll be off to Tampa, FL to participate in the American Fisheries Society conference. We are taking another strong contingent of from DEEPEND researchers, so be sure to check back in August to hear all about that!


On June 8th, 2017 DEEPEND members from Texas A&M University at Galveston attended the second annual Artist Boat World Oceans Day Festival at Stewart Beach in Galveston, Texas. DEEPEND partnered with ADDOMEx to represent the scientific work that GoMRI consortia are performing in the Gulf of Mexico. The DEEPEND booth showcased DEEPEND's mission as well as exciting fish and invertebrate samples from the Gulf of Mexico! People of all ages enjoyed the post cards, stickers, and bookmarks depicting the amazing creatures we study.
The DEEPEND (Deep Pelagic Nekton Dynamics of the Gulf of Mexico) project, a consortium of 15 institutions headed by Dr. Tracey Sutton (DoMES), had a tremendous showing at the recent Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science (GoMOSES) Conference in New Orleans, February 5-10. DEEPEND contributed 31 talks and posters, including presentations by NSU graduate students (Lindsay Freed, Richard Hartland, Nina Pruzinsky, and Matt Woodstock), postdocs (Andrea Bernard, Cole Easson, and Rosanna Milligan), and Faculty/Staff (April Cook, Kim Finnegan, Matt Johnston, Joe Lopez, Tammy Frank, Mahmood Shivji, and Tracey Sutton). Dr. Sutton chaired the GoMOSES session “Recovery from the Bottom Up: Rates, Processes and Connectivity in the Deep Gulf of Mexico.” NSU students Mike Novotny, Nina Pruzinsky, and Matt Woodstock kindly served as session volunteers during the meeting. Following GoMOSES, DEEPEND had an additional 10 presentations at the 2017 AGU/ASLO Aquatic Sciences Meeting in Honolulu, HI. NSU presenting authors included April Cook, Tammy Frank, Matt Johnston, Joe Lopez, Rosanna Milligan, Mahmood Shivji. and Tracey Sutton. Drs. Milligan and Sutton chaired the ASLO session “Vertical Connectivity of the Pelagic Ocean: Understanding the Function and Services of Intermediate Trophic Levels.” In between these two meetings, Dr. Sutton co-authored a presentation at the American Association for the Advancement of Science 2017 Annual Meeting in Boston entitled “Ecological Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon and IXTOC-I Marine Blowouts.”

Cruise DP05 on board the R/V Point Sur sets sail on April 29th. On April 26th, a glider was deployed to sample the water column and will be retrieved by the crew towards the end of the cruise. Be sure to follow the updates of the glider and cruise track on the main DEEPEND webpage.


We would like to thank everyone who came out to support us at Rock the Ocean’s Conservation Village at the Tortuga Music Festival this past weekend on Fort Lauderdale Beach. The weather was gorgeous and we had a great time educating the public about the deep sea while playing some trivia and listening to the bands play. We’d like to thank our volunteers for their time and enthusiasm sharing our research this past weekend: Heather Bracken Grissom, April Cook, Danielle DeLeo, Katherine Dougan, Joan Glenny, Scott Grissom, Rich Jones, José Lopez, Jorge Perez Moreno, Mike Novotny, Nina Pruzinsky, Lauren Ramos, Brittney Smith, Nick Turner, Hernan Vazquez, Lee Wilkins, Blake Wilkins, and Matt Woodstock.


The DEEPEND Consortium is joining Rock The Ocean’s Conservation Village at the Tortuga Music Festival this weekend April 7-9, 2017. This event pairs music with conservation and will showcase more than 30 musical groups and 35+ ocean conservation groups all packed into one weekend on Fort Lauderdale Beach. This year’s theme of the Conservation Village is “JUST ONE THING” you can do to Rock the Ocean and start making a difference in saving our oceans and marine life. Stop by the DEEPEND booth to see what one thing you can do to help the deep sea. Then play some deep-sea trivia and win prizes! We will be there from 10am-7pm all weekend and if you cannot attend be sure to follow our highlights from the event on Facebook and Instagram!