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Nicole's love for animals and nature started at a young age during her summer vacations with her grandmother. As a teen she started volunteering at the San Antonio Zoo and realized she could never leave nature behind. For the DEEPEND project, Nicole manages the Kid's Blog and all the social media sites. Her goal is to provide the science of this project to a larger audience, specifically targeting children. She hopes to inspire the next generation of researchers and biologists. Nicole now works as a Conservation Technician at the San Antonio Zoo.
Hi everyone, Squirt here! I have another update from the scientists to share. the MOCNESS nets are catching a lot of animals and all of the DEEPEND scientists are busy! Once the MOCNESS nets are emptied on the deck of the ship, the scientists really get to work. The animals are first sorted by type. There are so many different kinds!
Then the scientists identify each individual animal. Scientist Tracey identifies the fishes.
Another scientists identifies the crustaceans (shrimps and crawfishes). The scientists take lots of notes about each animal, such as its size, coloration, and if it's healthy or not.
After identifying each animal, the scientists collect a small piece of tissue to later study its DNA. DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. Let's sound that one out together: de-ox-y-ri-bo-nu-cle-ic ac-id. You did it! DNA is the instruction for life in each animal. One instruction that DNA give is how each animal looks.
Scientist April then enters all of the notes into the computer. She is responsible for the master copy of all the notes and records. Scientist April also keeps notes about where the animals were caught and at what depth. She answers questions like: How deep were the animals? What temperature is the water? How salty is the water?
After all the information is recorded, some of the animals are frozen. Other animals go on to the photo lab. See our next post on what happens at the photo lab! Isn't it exciting?
Squirt is excited that the scientists caught Ink in the MOCNESS net. Ink is a baby Atlantic Longarm Octopus (Macrotritopus defilippi). Remember the italicized name is a scientific name. Let's sound this one out together: Mac-ro-tri-to-pus def-il-ip-pi. Whew, we did it! Those will get easier with practice. The word "octopus" means "eight limbs." If you look closely at Ink you will see that he has eight limbs. Imagine if you had eight limbs, wouldn't that be strange!
The MOCNESS net caught some other cool animals including a couple of fishes: a Fangtooth (Anoplogaster cornuta) and a Dragonfish (Echinostoma barbatum). Scientist Dante is holding the Fangtooth. My look at those teeth! In our next couple of posts we will tell you about what the scientists do once they have animals onboard!
Remember that if you have any questions just leave them in the comments and one of the scientists will try to answer your question!
Exciting News! The first DEEPEND Cruise has begun! Scientists boarded the R/V Point Sur, a research vessel, on May 3rd and will be exploring the northern Gulf of Mexico until May 8th. This is the first of many cruises the scientists will take over the next three years.
The scientists and educators of DEEPEND want to describe the ocean ecosystem of the northern Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf of Mexico is located south of the United States of America between Texas and Florida. You can follow the cruises on the DEEPEND website!
An ecosystem consists of the community of living plants, animals, and microbes as well as the nonliving parts of their environment, such as water, rocks, and soil. A big part of describing the ecosystem is finding out what animals live here. the scientists will use a MOCNESS net system. MOCNESS stands for Multiple Opening/Closing Net Environmental Sensing System. Whew, that's a lot of big words! All that to say, MOCNESS drops five nets into the water at the same time but the nets stop at different depths. This allows the scientists to collect aquatic animals at different depths from the surface all the way down to 1500 meters. How deep is 1500 meters? Well that's almost four Empire State Buildings in New York stacked on top of each other!
The scientists will collect the animals from the nets. Some of these animals will be frozen and taken back to the lab to be examined. For other animals, scientists will just take tissue samples to help identify the species of each animal. Scientists expect to find crustaceans (shrimps and crayfishes), fishes, and cephalopods (squids). Although the scientist are early into their journey, they have already caught a really cool fish, the Johnson's Abyssal Seadevil, Melanocetus johnsonii! The strange words in italics are the scientific name for this animal. Try sounding it out" Mel-an-o-ce-tus john-son-I-I. The last two I's are pronounce "ee-eye." This fish is an anglerfish, similar to the one in the movie Finding Nemo. Anglerfishes are known for hunting using the glowing lure on its forehead to attract prey. Stay tuned, more pictures of neat animals to come!
If you have any questions for the scientists just ask them below! The scientists will try their best to answer all of your questions as soon as they can. You can ask them about the ocean, the animals, what it's like to be at sea, what the crew does all day, or anything else that interests you. The scientists look forward to hearing from you!