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Nicole Sandoval

Nicole Sandoval

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.

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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.

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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!

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Here is a close up!

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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?

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I can't wait to see what else the DEEPEND scientists have to teach us!
Until next time!
 
 
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Squirt here with another small update! 

 

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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! 

 

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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.

 

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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! 

 

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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? 

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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! 

 

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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. 

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That's all for today, but if you have questions for any of the scientists, feel free to leave a comment! 

 

 

 

 

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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! 

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Here is an adult Flying Fish!

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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. 

 

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I'm so excited to see what else Flat Stanley and the scientists have in store for us. 

Until next time! 

 

 

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Larval eels (leptocephali) don't look much like the eels that into which they will transform. DEEPEND is busy cataloguing all of the larval eels we encounter during our cruises. 

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Hey Kids! The spots on the side of this fish are called photophores. Photophores can produce light. Among many possible uses, photophores might assist fish with identifying their own species or in finding mates. These photophores were found on a viperfish! 

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Hey Kids! Squirt here to talk about blind lobsters! 

 

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Blind lobsters spend their larval (baby) stage in the water column. Once they mature to a specific stage, they begin to sink through the water column. As adults they live on the sea floor. DEEPEND scientists are still running tests in their labs to see what these lobsters look like as adults! Stay tuned! 

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It has been such an amazing year working with the DEEPEND scientists, and I'm excited to see what else they have in store! Thank you to everybody who continues to follow everything we are doing! Help us celebrate Squirt's birthday by sharing this post, or leaving a comment! 

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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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Some deep water shrimps release glowing fluid when startled by potential predators!  This process is believed to be a defensive mechanism wherein the glowing blue cloud of material distracts the predator while the shrimp moves in the opposite direction. Can you think of some other ways animals have developed defense mechanisms? Leave them in the comments below! 

 

 

 

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Larval, or baby, fishes are common in our trawls.  This is a larval reef inhabiting anglerfish (Antennariidae), also known as frogfishes.

 

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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Here is the team!

 

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

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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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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!

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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!

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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?

 

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

 

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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.

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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?

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

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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!

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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!

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

 

 

 

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Hi everyone! The last few weeks we have seen many neat animals that were caught in the MOCNESS nets. Today I would like to show you how the scientists store and care for the MOCNESS nets, which are made by Bobbie Seigler at the Sea-Gear Corporation in Florida.

 

The MOCNESS nets are stored in a large open container for the drive to and from the ship. The big container reminds me of a toy box! When the scientists arrive at the ship they assemble the frames. Then the scientists drop the nets into the water. Check out the MOCNESS nets in action!

 

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During the cruise, the scientists clean the nets by spraying them down with water. As the scientists sprays down the net they also check for rips or holes. If a net is damaged, the scientists replace the net so the animals do not escape.

 

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At the end of the cruise, the scientists disassemble the frames so they can take the nets back to Florida. Once in Florida, the nets are given a really good cleaning. Then, the nets are left out to dry before they are stored until the next cruise. Just like you and me, the scientists have to clean up their toys!

I'm glad we learned more about the MOCNESS nets because they are so important for the DEEPEND scientists! Until next time.

 

 

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Hello again, Squirt here! Are you ready to learn about the photo lab aboard the RV/Point Sur? I am!

 

The MOCNESS nets catch a lot of animals. Remember how the scientists take notes and records on all the animals? Well, if the scientists find a really cool or strange animal they take it to the photo lab. The photo lab is located on the front of the deck of the ship.

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Scientists take photographs (pictures) of the animals in the photo lab. These photographs get added to the notes and records that scientist April enters into the computer. Scientists capture details of how the animals look by taking photographs. Just like when someone takes a photograph of you, say cheese! Let's take a look inside the photo lab. There are lights, tanks, and cameras that the scientists need to get a good photograph.

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 After the scientists take photographs, the animals are returned to the main lab (where the scientists sorted and identified the animals) to be frozen. Let's check out some of the photographs that have been taken already!

Remember the Fangtooth that Scientists Dante was holding in the blog post about Ink? Here is a photograph that he took in the photo lab. Check out those teeth now! Ouch, that would hurt if he bit you!

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Scientist Dante also took a photograph of the Dragonfish. It has lots of small looking teeth! Check out the barbel hanging down from its chin. The end of the barbel glow through a process called biolumenescence (bio-lu-mi-nes-cence). We will learn more about this later. The Dragonfish can use the glowing barbel to attract food just like the Anglerfish did in Finding Nemo! Pretty electrifying!

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I can't wait to see what the scientists discover next!

 

 

 

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