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Good afternoon everyone! Did you know that animals are divided into two main groups? These two groups are the invertebrates and the vertebrates. Today we will focus on invertebrates. An invertebrate is an animal that does not have a backbone (spine). Some examples of an invertebrate are dragonflies, clams, and worms. Most of Earth's animals are invertebrates! Some scientists think that 97% of all animals are invertebrates. That's a lot!

Let's take a closer look at some invertebrates that live in the Gulf of Mexico. These invertebrates were caught during the August 2015 DEEPEND cruise!

Check out the eyes on this crab:


Wow, this shrimp is very colorful:


Look at the pinchers on this lobster:


I can't believe I get to share my home with all of these amazing invertebrates. Scientists think the giant squid is the largest invertebrate on Earth. Even though I'm a different squid species, I'm also an invertebrate! That's all for today, thanks for joining me!


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Have you ever heard of the giant squid? The giant squid lives in the abyssopelagic layer of the water column. Many invertebrate that live deep in the ocean are giant, or at least bigger than normal. Deep sea gigantism is where animals grow to an abnormally big size. Check out this photo of the largest crab in the world, Macrocheira kaemferi, from Japan being held by scientist Dante Fenolio.



Scientists are researching what causes deep sea gigantism. Some scientists think it is due to the high pressure exerted on the animals at these depths. Others think it is due to the scarcity of food. What do you think causes deep sea gigantism?


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Tagged in: kids blog Squirt

Posted by on in News

Squirt here to talk about how temperature changes in the water column. The surface waters (epipelagic layer) tend to be warmer than deeper waters because they are warmed by sunlight. The bathypelagic layer feels very cold to me. I live happily in the mesopelagic layer because the waters are just right. Other factors that affect water temperature are longitudinal location and water currents. Waters closer to the poles are colder than waters which are close to the equator. Have you ever seen pictures of the Southern Ocean? There are usually chunks of ice floating. Brrr... I don't think I like the cold waters at the poles! Do you like the cold?

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Tagged in: kids blog Squirt

Posted by on in News

Hi everyone! Squirt here to talk about cephalopods. Cephalopods are a group of marine animals that includes cuttlefishes, nautiluses, octopods, and squids - like myself! There are over 900 known species of cephalopods. Cephalopods are invertebrates, this means they do not have a backbone. Some consider cephalopods the most intelligent marine invertebrates because they have big brains. Some cephalopods are bioluminescent while others can change colors like a chameleon when they feel threatened or want to blend in to their surroundings! One of the most noticeable features of cephalopods are their dangling arms. These arms help cephalopods capture prey and navigate through the water. Check out the arms on the cephalopods below. Octopus have 8 arms and squids have 8 arms and 2 tentacles….. Pretty cool tools to have when capturing food!


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Squirt here! Did you know that light is made up of a rainbow of wavelengths? Marsh Myers tells us all about what happens to light in the ocean in the video I want to share with you today. He also shares with us how some animals camouflage in the dark waters. Ask an adult if you can make your own animal using construction paper. I'd love to see pictures of the animal you create in the comments section! Check out the video here:


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Hi everyone! Today I want to share a video about water pressure with you. Water pressure is the pressure exerted on an item due to the weight of water above it. The degree of water pressure increases as you dive deeper because more water is above you. This video shows you how water pressure affects different items. Ask an adult to help you try out the egg experiment Marsh Myers talks about. Please share your results in the comment section, I'm excited to see what you found. Just follow this link for the video:


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Good morning Kids! Are you ready for our next matching game?

This time we will dive into the depths of the bathypelagic layer. The bathypelagic zone extends from 4000 - 6000 meters. Waters in this layer is completely dark as no sunlight penetrates this deep. With the help of a light I caught a: giant isopod, threadfin dragonfish, phanthom anglerfish, google-eye, bathynermest, humpback anglerfish, squid, tripod fish, and slender snipe eel. Can you guess who's who in the image below? The answers can be found under the image.



A. Google-eye; B. Tripod fish; C. Giant isopod; D. Squid; E. Humpback anglerfish; F. Threadfin dragonfish; G. Slender snipe eel; H. Bathynemertest; and I. Phanthom anglerfish. Photographs by Dante B. Fenolio.

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Hi everyone! How did you do on the epipelagic matching game from last week? I hope everyone did well and had fun!

This week I want to share with you some of the animals I found in the dimly lit mesopelagic layer. The mesopelagic layer extends from 200 - 1000 meters. Some light penetrates this zone until about 800 meters so it is sometimes called the twilight zone. In this layer I caught a: lanternfish, glass squid, waryfish, firefly squid, amphipod, hatchetfish, shrimp, heteropod, and viperfish. Can you guess who's who in the image below? The answers can be found under the image.



A. Firefly squid; B. Heteropod; C. Waryfish; D. Shrimp; E. Lanternfish; F. Glass squid; G. Hatchetfish; H. Viperfish; and I. Amphipod. Photographs by Dante B. Fenolio.

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Hi everyone! Over the next few weeks I want to show you some of the plants and animals I caught during our dive into the deep. For this week I want you to see what I caught in the warm and sunny epipelagic layer. This layer is near the surface of the open ocean and extends to 200 meters in depth. The sunlight here allows plants to photosynthesize. I caught a crab larvae, seaweed, lobster larvae, sea snail, flying fish, juvenile sailfish, siphonophore, and crab zoea. Can you guess who's who in the image below? The answers can be found under the image.


A. Flying fish; B. Crab Larvae; C. Crab Zoea; D. Juvenile Sailfish; E. Siphonophore; F. Lobster larvae; G. Seaweed; and H. Sea Snail. Photographs by Dante B. Fenolio.

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Hi Kids! Are you reading to dive into the deep ocean with me? Scientists divide the ocean into zones and layers. I'm here to give you a tour of the pelagic ocean layers. The pelagic ocean zone is all the open ocean waters from the water surface down to the ocean floor.



The pelagic ocean zone is divided into three main layers: epipelagic, mesopelagic, and bathypelagic.







The epipelagic layer is the uppermost zone in the water column extending from the surface to 200m.





This layer is sometimes called the "sunlight zone" because sunlight penetrates the waters.  The epipelagic layer is home to many plants and animals. Notice how the fish like to live here because of the warmth and sunlight!








Descending through the epipelagic layer we encounter the mesopelagic layer (200–1000m). There is a dim light presence in the mesopelagic zone, so it is sometimes called the "twilight zone." No plants live in this zone because there is not enough sunlight to drive photosynthesis. Animals such as myself call this layer home!



At a depth of 1000m we encounter the bathypelagic layer. The bathypelagic layer extends to 4000m. Absolutely no light reaches this zone, so it is often called the "midnight zone."








Notice how I need a light to see all the way down here! Once again, we see no plants living this deep. But, animals such as octopi and gulper eels call this layer home.



Wasn't our descent into the deep ocean exciting? I think I'll return to the mesopelagic layer so I can see again!

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Good afternoon everyone! This week I am going to introduce you to some of our DEEPEND student scientists. On board the R/V Point Sur this cruise we had five graduate students. A graduate student is a college student who is working to earn a Masters or Doctoral degree.

The first graduate student I would like you to meet this week is Ms. Katie Bowen. Ms. Bowen grew up in Pennsylvania and recently moved to Florida to attend school.


Ms. Bowen is a graduate student at Nova Southeastern University working on her Masters degree in marine biology. As part of her studies Ms. Bowen is studying juvenile reef fishes collected in the Gulf of Mexico. Ms. Bowen wants to know where these fish live in the water column and how many species there are in the Gulf of Mexico.


Do you have any questions for Ms. Bowen? If so leave them in the comments area!

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Tagged in: Deepend News kids blog

Posted by on in News

Good morning everyone.  Today we are highlighting Lacey Malarky! She is another one of our DEEPEND graduate students. On board the R/V Point Sur cruise we had five graduate students. A graduate student is a college student who is working to earn a Masters or Doctoral degree. Lacey grew up in Kansas and moved to Florida to continue studying.


Ms.Malarky is a graduate student at Nova Southeastern University working on her Masters degree. She is interested in the amount of larval (or baby) flatfishes in the Gulf of Mexico. While flatfishes are usually found in coastal areas, or the transitions areas between land and sea, baby flatfish develop in offshore surface waters.

Larval (baby) Flatfish



Lacey helped the DEEPEND science team on this last cruise by keeping count and measuring all the fish that were collected. She also took charge of collecting and organizing all the data the team collected.


If you have any questions for Ms.Malarky leave them in the comments! Talk soon!





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Hello everyone!

Our team wrapped up their last night on Friday, August 21st at 5pm. They celebrated by having dinner together and talked about the amazing experiences they have shared these last three weeks. After dinner they watched their last sunset on the R.V. Point Sur for the year. Once the sun completely disappeared the team took  advantage of the clear night sky and watched the stars and constellations.


Here is the team!




Pictured here is Dr.Heather Judkins (right) and our Teacher at Sea, Alisha Stahl.


Although this research cruise has come to an end we have plenty of things to talk about! The scientists have learned a lot on this trip and will continue to sort through their data once they've arrived in their own labs. Make sure to come back as we continue to bring their discoveries to you. Until tomorrow!





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Ever wonder what a day is like on board the R/V Point Sur? I'm here to tell! The scientists on the R/V Point Sur spend a lot of time working and sleeping!

As the R/V Point Sur travels the Gulf of Mexico the scientists work hard to sample each site both during the night and day. Every night the scientists deploy the MOCNESS nets between 9 and 10pm. The nets stay in the water until 3am when the scientists pull them back up. They then repeat this process each morning. Every morning the scientists deploy the MOCNESS nets between 9 and 10am, pulling them back in at 3pm.

While the MOCNESS nets are in the water most of the scientists are sleeping. The MOCNESS operator Mr. Gray controls and monitors the nets during this time. The scientists wake up shortly before the nets are pulled back up because then their work starts. Once the nets are on board the scientists empty and process the catches.

Mr. Gray controlling the MOCNESS nets.


Mr. Gray bringing the MOCNESS nets back on board.


Ms. Tammy and Ms. Heather wait for the MOCNESS nets to come back up.

b2ap3_thumbnail_b2ap3_thumbnail_tammy-and-heather-waiting-patiently.jpgMOCNESS nets back on board.


Sorting the catches!


While the other scientists start sorting the catches scientists Charles Kovach and Travis Richards deploy the CTD to measure water conductivity and temperature at different depths.

The CTD!


After all of the morning work is done the scientists enjoy breakfast, usually at 6am. They then try to watch the sunrise! I'm sure the sunrises look pretty from the boat. Then the scientists take a nap before afternoon work begins. In the afternoon the scientists work on blog posts and input data from the morning catches. Dinner is served at 6pm on board the R/V Point Sur. After which the scientists spend some time relaxing. Some scientists nap while others watch a movie or read a book.


Check out some more images here:

All this talk of sleeping is making me tired! I think I'll go take a snooze. Until next time my friends.

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Tagged in: kids blog MOCNESS Squirt

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It's not always smooth sailing out in the Gulf of Mexico. This is a waterspout; in the photos moving left to right you can see how it formed and how it ended. Although some of these can be dangerous, this one did not do any damage to our team out at sea. Whew!


The weather didn't stop our team from using the MONESS nets! Take a look at some of the catch.

Can you believe that both photos are of Bobtail Squid? Both of these are adults and this is as big as they grow!





The MOCNESS nets also brought up another type of Dragonfish (Idiacanthus fasciola). This Dragonfish is a female. Males don't get the barbel and bioluminescent bulb hanging off of their chins. Can you see the bioluminescent photophores on her sides? Those spots glow in the dark and most likely help these fish recognize the same species and the opposite sex. The bulb at the end of her barbel glows to attract her food. The barbel is attached to her chin, see?




That's all for today! Comment below if you have any questions. We hope to hear from you!


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Good morning everyone! I'm here today to talk about some predators the MOCNESS nets have caught in the past week. We have seen some of these fish before, but I'm always excited to see them again.

First up is the fangtooth, Anoplogaster cornuta. The fangtooth is one of the biggest predators in the deep ocean.  I think his name is fitting, just look at those sharp teeth! The large bottom fangs of this fish are so long that the fish actually has a pair of holes in the roof of their mouth that allows the fish to close its mouth without hurting itself. That's really cool, don't you think?


Next we have some dragonfish. We've seen dragonfish before. On this cruise the scientists have caught two species: Photostomias guernei and Echiostoma barbatum. Just like the fangtooth, dragonfish also have fang-like teeth. Do you notice how the teeth curve a little bit? This curve helps the dragonfish hold onto its prey. Dragonfish are covered with gorgeous photophores. If you don't remember what photophores are check out the blog post from May 21, 2015! Ms. Alisha Stahl, our teacher at sea for this cruise, and Ms. Katie Bowen, a student, aren't scared to hold the dragonfish. Check out the pictures below!




What do you all want to learn about next? Let me know by using the comments link!



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Tagged in: kids blog MOCNESS Squirt

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Let's take a look at these fish the MOCNESS nets brought up! This deep water fish is usually found between 1,460m and 3,500m. This is a juvenile, or not yet an adult. If you look closely it's almost like they don't have eyes. These fish actually have what remains of photoreceptive tissue, so instead of having eyes like we do, their eyes are beneath their bones. The "eyes" have no lenses but they can detect light. Can you picture it? It's like when you close your eyes on a really sunny day. You can still "see" some of the light, right? Try it next time you're outside.



Here is another fish with different eyes! This deep water fish has eyes that face towards the surface of the water and are adapted to see faint light or to key in on bioluminescence. We've talked about bioluminescence before, do you remember?



 Leave a comment below If you have any questions for our scientists! Until next time!

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Did the scientists just catch an alien?! No, it's just a deep sea amphipod! Amphipods are really interesting little creatures. They are crustaceans. We've talked about crustaceans like the blind lobster before.


This amphipod is from the species Phronima. It has really large claws! This amphipod species uses its large claws to prey on zooplankton, jellies, and siphonophores. The amphipod not only eats these creatures, but collects resources from them to build the barrel we see. Check out the image below, do you see the barrel shape surrounding the amphipod? This is a semi-hard gelatinous barrel - it kind of feels like a gummy bear. The barrel seems to be the amphipods' home providing protection and camouflage. That's really cool!


Also, take a close look at the amphipod. Do you see those BIG eyes? The species Paraphronima gracilis has 16 retinas in each eye! We only have one retina in each eye. Image if you had 16 retinas in one eye. Check out the amphipod video below!


It's amazing what unique creatures the scientists are finding in the deep sea. I wonder what the MOCNESS nets will catch next.



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Tagged in: kids blog MOCNESS Squirt

Posted by on in Scientists

The scientists have been pulling up some really neat animals! Here we have a Orangeback flying Squid! This species can jump out of the water and glide, just like flying fishes! How exciting!


The scientist have also collected a few different species of shrimp! In this photo we have a shrimp "in berry" which means she is keeping her eggs underneath her tail. In the top left corner you can take a closer look at her tail! On the bottom right is a photo of scientists Dante Fenolio holding this beautiful shrimp!



The photo above is a larval shrimp, or a young shrimp, that has not reached the adult life stage.




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Good morning everyone! Squirt here to tell you about autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) gliders! An autonomous underwater vehicle is a robot that operates on its own. Scientist Charles Kovach deployed an AUV Glider from the R/V Point Sur on Sunday August 9th.


The AUV Glider will travel around in waters of the Gulf of Mexico until Sunday August 23rd at which point the R/V Point Sur team will retrieve it. The scientists will be able to find the AUV Glider by using GPS. You can track the AUV Glider here

The scientists will also communicate with the AUV Glider and tell it to return to the surface. That bright yellow color should be hard to miss!


As it travels the AUV Glider will collect data for the scientists. It will go up and down the water column surfacing every three hours. As it goes up and down the AUV glider will record information on the temperature, dissolved oxygen concentration, amount of salt, ability of the water to conduct electricity, cloudiness of the water, and dissolved organic matter. The scientists will use this information to learn more about the ocean ecosystem.

This cruise keeps getting more exciting! Until next time.

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Tagged in: kids blog Squirt