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Hey kids!

Squirt here with an update from the last cruise! Our favorite scientists have been home for a couple weeks now and have sent over a report from their travels.

The team was able to complete 17 trawls on their last cruise and collected over 10,000 specimens! With each trawl they were able to conduct 17 CTD drops. The CTD measures the water's conductivity, temperature, and density. Additional sensors have been added that also record oxygen, florescence, and pH levels. It travels as deep as 1,500 meters but will take measurements at different depths for the scientists. When the CTD reaches a certain depth, one of the grey chambers (niskin bottles) will open, fill, and close with water from that depth in the water column.

Here is an image of the CTD


The team was also able to pick up their glider, Murphy, who was out collecting data for twelve days! Each scientist is now back home and working through their data and all those specimens!

I can't wait to see what they learn! Until next time!







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Hello Kids!

Squirt here with an update from our DEEPEND crew! As you know, the cruise was scheduled to leave on April 29th! Unfortunately, the weather made it impossible for the team to leave port that day. I hear that the waves were ten to fifteen feet high and all the way to the first station DEEPEND was supposed to survey! The good news is that they are now at sea and won't be back until May 12th! That is a lot of time in the Gulf of Mexico!


Here we have a photo of the MOCNESS in action! Do you remember how the MOCNESS works and what the acronym stands for? If not, you can refresh your memory in one of our earlier blog posts under this link;


This is one of the very first fish our scientists have encountered in the Gulf of Mexico and it's called a frogfish! This one in particular is a larval, or baby, frogfish. You can clearly see the "fishing pole" (illicium) and "lure" (esca) that have already started to develop.



The whip-nose anglerfishes are pretty amazing fishes! Females of this species can grow "fishing rods" (illicia) that are nearly twice the length of their bodies! Can you imagine? The males, much like other oceanic anglerfishes, look nothing like the females. The top image (black background) is the male and the bottom image (blue background) is the female.


That's all for today!

If you have any questions for the scientists, leave them below!



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Hey Kids, Squirt here with some exciting news!

DEEPEND will be going out on cruise number five on April 29th!

The scientist are excited to be getting back into the Gulf of Mexico and have been preparing all their equipment! Each lab has to figure out which people will be on the vessel to represent them and they each have a specific list of tasks they are to accomplish while at sea. This time around our scientist will not touch the port until May 12th, so they are spending two week on the vessel!

Check back in and keep up with us during the cruise to see daily updates from our favorite scientists!









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Hey Kids!

 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!



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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;

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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;


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!






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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! 

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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!


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Squirt here! 

The DEEPEND scientists were hard at work last Friday in Tampa, Florida! There are so many scientists involved in this amazing project! They all had a chance to talk about their plans for 2016 and the amazing discoveries they made in 2015! A lot of the studies have actually never been done before. There are also so many new scientists and graduate students! Did you know that you can study to work with animals? I think that's one of the coolest things you can do! What do you want to be when you grow up? Leave your answers in the comments! 

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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!

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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!







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