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This spectacular squid turns two years old today! Squirt has taught us a lot of new things over the last two years and we hope to continue to learn form him and celebrate his birthday! Feel free to wish Squirt a very Happy Birthday in the comments section!
We are pleased to present you with the fourth in a series of teaching and learning modules developed by the DEEPEND (Deep-Pelagic Nekton Dynamics) Consortium and their consultants. Whenever possible, the lessons will focus specifically on events of the Gulf of Mexico or work from the DEEPEND scientists.
All modules in this series aim to engage students in grades 6 through 12 in STEM disciplines, while promoting student learning of the marine environment. We hope these lessons enable teachers to address student misconceptions and apprehensions regarding the unique organisms and properties of marine ecosystems. We intend for these modules to be a guide for teaching. Teachers are welcome to use the lessons in any order, use just portions of lessons, and may modify the lessons as they wish. Furthermore, educators may share these lessons with other school districts and teachers; however, please do not receive monetary gain for lessons in any of the modules.
You can download the module and view our other modules here; http://outreach.deependconsortium.org/index.php/education/resources/lesson-plans
Hey Kids, Squirt here to introduce Dr. Tamara Frank!
Listen as she talks about the largest migration on the planet, her work with DEEPEND, and how she struggled to break into the marine biology world! She is part of our crustacean team that studies animals like crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp and krill.
Below are some of the images of crustaceans we've pulled up with our MOCNESS during our research cruises!
Did you have any questions for Dr.Frank?
Leave them in the comments below!
Squirt here to talk about bacteria!
Bacteria are microscopic organisms that can thrive in many different types of environments, including our oceans! Bacteria have a bad reputation for making people sick, but they can also be incredibly helpful.
For example; some anglerfish (seen above) cannot produce their own light. Remember, bioluminescence is a chemical process that allows an animal to produce its own light. So how do these anglerfish get their glow? Anglerfish actually borrow their light from bacteria! These tiny bacteria, called Photobacterium, live in the anglerfish's esca, or lure. In exchange the bacteria gains protection and nutrients as the fish swims through the ocean. Pretty neat, huh?
This is also a great example of a symbiotic relationship! A symbiotic relationship is a type of interaction between different species. Sometimes they're beneficial and sometimes they're harmful, but these relationships are essential to many organisms and ecosystems, and they provide a balance that can only be achieved by working together.
Did you know that DEEPEND has a special team that studies these bacteria? Lindsey Freed and Dr.Joe Lopez are working on determining the species of bacteria found on these lures because it turns out that each anglerfish species actually has a unique species of bacterium it's paired with!
No one really knows how many different species of luminescent bacteria there are in total or how these anglerfishes are getting their bacteria in the first place. So far, there are tow different ideas. Either there are bacteria floating around in the ocean waiting to be picked up by the correct anglerfish species, or, these fish are being introduced to this bacteria by their parent during their larval stage (seen below).
Which method do you think anglerfish are collecting their bacteria?
Squirt here with some exciting news!
Some of the scientists that work with DEEPEND will be at the Ft. Lauderdale boat show all weekend long! The show will be taking place at the Coral Reef Pavillion, Bahia Mar. DEEPEND will have special presentations from 11 in the morning until three in the afternoon each day where they will share information about the deep-sea organisms that live in the Gulf of Mexico.
The show starts on Friday, November 4th and ends on Sunday, November 6th!
Come out and play some games for an opportunity to win prizes! All teachers should also stop by our booth for a token of our appreciation!
We hope to see you there!
Hey kids, Squirt here to talk about my favorite week! Cephalopod awareness week!
This week is all about celebrating and learning about the different cephalopods that live in our oceans! Since the DEEPEND team does all their work in the Gulf of Mexico, we will highlight some of the cephalopods they have captured there.
The first one on our list is called the Orangeback flying squid! This species of squid gets its name because it can jump out of the water and glide like flying fishes! It's also one of the squids we would think of as a "normal" squid. You can see it below!
The bobtail squid is a smaller species that migrates to the surface of the water at night in order to catch prey. Below you can see a picture of an adult bobtail squid!
Next on our list is the firefly squid. It is considered the smallest of the squids and it's covered in biolumenescent photophores! We talked about the firefly squid in our first video. Do you remember?
If not, you can watch the video here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzZWWyimUGI
The firefly squid uses counter-illumination to match the background light so that predators swimming below cannot see the shadows from the squid swimming above.
Last, but not least, is the glass squid! Did you know that I'm actually a glass squid too? We are a special bunch that moves pretty slowly. We can escape and hide from predators because we are so "see through." Which one is your favorite?
Until next time!
Have you enjoyed our updates from the scientists? Everyone has just returned to their labs and is working on their individual data-sets. In the previous posts we've seen a lot of images of the physical collection of organisms, but another one of the key components to the DEEPEND research is the collection of sound data! It's called bio-acoustics and it's another form of taking data that turns sounds into pictures for us to see! Ben, from Florida International University, was on the last cruise working the acoustics and was able to use the data to determine how many organisms were in the water. He is also able to tell us which different organisms were out in the water when he took his data. In order to collect his data, he sends different sound frequencies and pulse lengths through the water to identify fish and crustaceans. He can also track migration patterns of different organisms and is hoping to determine why certain patterns exist.
In the early morning, before the sun has started to rise, a mass migration of organisms swims from the epipelagic layer (sunlight zone) down to the mesopelagic layer (twilight zone). If you need a reminder on the layers of the ocean, you can view it here; http://www.outreach.deependconsortium.org/index.php/kids-blog/entry/diving-into-the-deep
The migration cycle also takes place at night, but in the opposite direction! The same organisms will migrate up from the mesopelagic layer (twilight zone) to the epipelagic layer (sunlight zone) to feed throughout the night. Using multiple sonars, scientists can determine the different groups of animals through their own "acoustic fingerprint", or echo that each group of organisms produces when pinged at different frequencies. In the image below you can see the different groups highlighted in different colors and their migration patterns that were recorded over a 24 hour period in the Northern Gulf of Mexico.
In this echogram (pictured below) a school of larger animals were observed swimming through an area of high biomass, or (an area with a lot of organisms) the brighter color shows us the large concentration of organisms. Scientists think that the large animals pictured in this area were foraging, or searching for food! Pretty interesting to see it taking place, and all through sounds!
If you have any questions for the DEEPEND scientists, or Ben, please leave a comment! Until next time!
Hey Kids! Squirt here with more updates from the Point Sur! The scientists are almost done with their trip but we still have some amazing things to learn about!
Below we can see the face of a Spotlight Lanternfish. It's thought that these lanternfish use the light on their heads to help them locate prey. This lanternfish was trawled from between 700 meters and 1,000 meters in depth.
Below we have a big red shrimp! This shrimp can store ammonia in their body to help with buoyancy ot the ability to float in water!
Here we have a close up of the hatchetfish. Look at those eyes! These fish are interesting because they use counter-illumination tactics to hide themselves from predators. You can find out more about counter-illumination from our video here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzZWWyimUGI
Last, but not least, we have the Sloan's viperfish! Look at those large teeth! In fact, their teeth are so large that they actually have grooves on top of their heads just to be able to close their mouths! Can you imagine having teeth that large?
Can you think of any special adaptations that other animals use to help them survive? List them below!
Hey Kids! The DEEPEND scientists are still going strong in the Gulf of Mexico! The team has officially been at sea for twelve days and they are extremely excited to share their updates with us!
Below we have a juvenile anglerfish! You can see that the "fishing rod and lure" has just formed on its forehead but it hasn't developed any adult coloration yet.
The scientist have also seen some beautiful deep water amphipods on this trip. This species in particular lives on jellyfish!
Below we have the biggest helmet jellyfish I've ever seen! This deep sea jellyfish is a vertical migrator, which means it actually lives deep down in the ocean, but migrates up to shallower waters at night to feed on plankton. It also has bioluminescent properties which allows it to communicate.
The scientists also bought up this bristlemouth ( image below) that has a parasitic copepod on its back! These parasites are also commonly found on the back of hatchetfish.
Until next time!
Her kids! Squirt here with some interesting updates from the scientists! This is the first DEEPEND cruise the scientists actually catch some of these fish! I'm so excited to see what they have to show us!
Here we have a Threadfin Dragonfish! It was pulled from between 1,200 and 1,500 meters in depth!
Look at the barbel on its chin and those photophores. Those teeth can't be missed either! These fish use those teeth to be able to capture their prey properly!
Here we have a Duckbill Oceanic Eel! These eels have an incredible rostrum, or beaklike mouth, that probably evolved to feed on crustaceans. This eel was trawled from between 1,200 and 1,500 meters in depth.
Can you guess how it gets its name? What does the shape of its mouth remind you of?
It looks almost like a duck to me!
Last, but not least, scientist pulled up the undistinguished Sabertooth. The enormous teeth on this fish help make sure they capture their prey. These fish feed on other fish! This one was an interesting catch because it was trawled between the surface of the water and 200 meters in depth! Of course, it was caught at night!
I can't wait to see what other fish the scientist have to introduce!
Until next time!
Hey Kids, Squirt here to give you some details on how hard the DEEPEND scientists work!
So what is a typical day like? We usually get nets coming up to the surface on the threes so at 3am and 3pm. It takes anywhere from three to six hours to process the nets. There are six nets per trawl and each net is opened at a different depth. Here are some photos of some of the scientists on board the Point Sur.
Below we have Dr. Sutton identifying some of the smaller specimens!
The scientist alsoenjoy three square meals a day from the amazing kitchen crew on the Point Sur!
Sleep is usually the hardest adjustment for the scientists because of the net times and the way the sleep windows are divided. The scientists can get five or six hours of sleep but its going to be broken into two shorter sleeping times. It's all worth it though! These are great people and these opportunities give us a chance to catalogue the biodiversity of the Gulf of Mexico!
Below we have one of the goliaths of the deep- a giant amphipod! We get these fairly regular in the deeper tows. The entire head of these amphipods is comprised of giant eyes. Does it remind you of anything?
Below we can see the eyes a little closer!
Until next time!
Hey Kids! Squirt here with more exciting updates from the Gulf of Mexico!
So every now and again, a Hatchetfish comes up in the nets that just shimmers with color. The colors seem to stand out and pop with the flash of a camera. I think that the photophores and the colors on the surface of these fish are some of the most beautiful things I have ever seen! This is the lower photophore set on a Hatchetfish.
Some detail with Cocco's lanternfish. The photophores are beautiful in this deep water species!
Some very cool larval crustaceans coming up in the nets. These individuals came up between 200m depth and the surface!
If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments below!
Hey Kids! Squirt here with more updates from the cruise!
Look at this adult female anglerfish! This was an exciting find for the scientists because she is so large! These fish are normally around the size of a golf ball but this lady was a total of six inches! That's half the size of your ruler! While this may seem small for you and I, in comparison to other fish of the same species, it's actually a size record! The other interesting thing about this female anglerfish is that she has a male attached to her! If you look closely at the bottom left side of her body you can see the male. The male anglerfish of this species are parasitic on the females, meaning that they will bite the female and hold on. Eventually, the male's lips will become permanently attached, and is then sustained by the female and only used for reproductive purposes.
These anglerfish are also the only group of fishes that evolved two entirely different bioluminescence systems. The "beard" that hangs off the fishe's chin glows in the dark by light produce by the fish itself. The lure on her head is called symbiotic bioluminescence, meaning its light is produced by bacteria on the lure, not the fish itself. It is extremely rare to have both biolominescence systems!
Time to welcome back some fish we've met before! Say hello to the moonfish! These fish are usually found out at sea as juveniles. As adults they can be found closer to the shore.
Let's not forget to welcome the telescope fish! We've talked about them before in a previous blog post! You can find it here; http://www.outreach.deependconsortium.org/index.php/kids-blog/entry/glowing-water
This fish was trawled from between 1,200 and 1,500 meters in depth!
Until the next update! Thank you for following us on our journey through the deep!
Hello everyone, Squirt here to say that the DEEPEND scientists are back in the Gulf of Mexico! They started their fourth cruise on August 5th and they have some very exciting things to share. Let's take a look!
Here we have one of the brightest orange/red fish I've ever seen! The Velvet Whalefish (Barbourisia rufa) feeds on crustaceans! This whalefish was roughly five inches in length and was trawled from between 1,000 and 1,200m depth. That's at least three empire state building stacked on top of one another!
Here is a close up!
The DEEPEND scientists also pulled up a Lanternfish! Lanternfishes often have photophores all over their bodies that produce light. The formation of the photophores is believed to be important so they can recognize the same species in the dark. This species (Diaphus fragilis) has glowing spots on its jaw as well as along its body. It also has a large light producing organ on the front of its face, like a built in flashlight. These fishes may use these lights to find food in the dark depths. How cool is that?
I can't wait to see what else the DEEPEND scientists have to teach us!
Until next time!
Squirt here with another small update!
In this picture you can see all the scientists that were working on the cruise to identify all the things the MOCNESS brought up. It's a time consuming process that includes weighing, measuring, labeling, and taking DNA samples to prove they have been identified correctly! While a lot of the work is done on the ship and at sea, there just isn't enough time to finish all the work that has to be done. Many of the scientists will label and freeze their samples so that they can continue the work in their own labs!
Here is one of the fish that was taken back to the University Lab! This is a Bluntsnout Smooth-head, trawled from between the surface and 1500 meters deep! The red spots below his eye are true photophores (they produce light). The photophores are spread all over its body.
The scientists also pulled up this larval (baby) blind lobster!
Being a researcher is a lot of work! Even though the cruise just recently ended there is still a lot of work to be done to prepare for the next cruise! That's all for now! If you have a question, please leave it in the comments below!
Hi everyone! I'm still at sea and am having a great time. I met some new friends today that are just like me - FLAT!! You may know these guys as flounders. These flatfishes are really young and still have one eye on each side of their head. As they get bigger, one of their eyes will rotate to the other side before they settle on the seafloor. Since they live on the seafloor and bury themselves in the sand for camouflage, it is necessary for both of their eyes to be on one side of their head so that they can still see.
We have also collected many other types of fish that live really deep in the ocean where there is no light! The only light that exists there is made by the organisms that live there. This angler fish has a modified fin ray that has a bioluminescent light at the end of it which most people call a lure. They call it that because they think that the angler fish uses the light to lure in their prey. The other pictures show several other types of fish that we commonly collect.
Angler fish Ceratias uranoscopus
Dolicholagus longirostris, Chauliodus sloani, Sigmops elongatus | Sigmops elongatus (black/silver fish), Dysalotus alcocki
We have been very busy out here working around the clock to sample both day and night. I will post more pictures and give you an update tomorrow on our progress!
Hello everyone! Squirt here with more updates from the Gulf of Mexico!
Here we can see the the two blue propeller washes behind the ship. Look at how they glow! There are all kinds of life forms flashing and glowing in the water including jellyfish, shrimp, and siphonophores. Many of these life forms glow when they are touched or caught up in the sudden movement, like the current that was created by the ship's propellers. Pretty neat huh?
To think that the glowing blue water is actually made up of animals!
Speaking of fish that produce light and glow in the dark. Check out this Lampfish! This one has a row of electric blue scales along its dorsum! Also known as the back of the fish!
I have one more fish to introduce you to.
Meet the telescope fish! These guys use their incredible teeth to eat other fish! Their eyes are also especially adapted to locate other fish in the deep sea. In the top portions of the picture you can see the larval (baby) stages of this fish. Down at the bottom you can see the adult.
That's all for today, but if you have questions for any of the scientists, feel free to leave a comment!
Hey guys! Squirt here!
Have you enjoyed all the updates from my friend Flat Stanley? I know he is having a lot of fun learning from all the scientists out at sea! They have had a little trouble connecting to the internet but I have some cool updates to share with you!
Check out this juvenile (young) Flying Fish they encountered! I'm sure Flat Stanley was so excited to see this!
Here is an adult Flying Fish!
I guess now you can see why they call them flying fish? They look like they have wings, just like birds! Flying fish don't actually fly but they can glide above the water for a while! I hear that several landed on the boat while Flat Stanley and the scientists were out!
Flat Stanley also had the chance to meet the Cock-Eyed Squid! These wonderful squids get their name because they have one eye larger than the other. You can also see the beautiful colors and photophores (light producing organs) on this squid.
I'm so excited to see what else Flat Stanley and the scientists have in store for us.
Until next time!
Hello everyone! We've been very busy sampling the deep Gulf of Mexico and have caught a lot of really neat animals! This is red shrimp (Acanthephyra acutifrons) that lives between 500-1000 meters - that is over 2,000 feet!
When the animals come on board the scientists sort them by type and identify each of them to species. Then they hand them off to be weighed and measured which is where I help out. They even weighed me!
After they have been recorded in the computer, we save them for several different groups who will run further tests on them. For example, DEEPEND team members sequence the DNA from a piece of muscle tissue for each species we collect. This is Max and Travis collecting tissue from the fish.
Well, I better get back to work - I hear the net coming in now! We're still having trouble connecting to the internet but I will try to update you again soon!