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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!
Hello Kiddos! Squirt here with another update from the Point Sur!
Yesterday, the crew had a visitor while they were trying to get the nets of the MOCNESS back in the water. This juvenile brown pelican was hanging around the boat looking for an easy meal! Have you seen any brown pelican when you visit the coast?
The team also had some really unique and special finds in the MOCNESS! They were able to pull up a "Deceitful Dreamer." The name, according to fishbase, comes from describing a deceitful little fish that manipulates its prey with the "bait" on its forehead. This fish in particular has only been seen 23 times by people! Isn't that crazy?! To think, that in all the time we've spent researching our oceans, we still haven't discovered or seen many of our discoveries we've made as often as people may think. That's part of the reason why it's so important to maintain the health of our oceans and to continue to study them! After all, you could be the next researcher!
The last fish I'll introduce has an interesting adaptation to living in the depths of the ocean. Meet the Glasshead Barreleye! These fish can see things in the water column directly above them through their primary eyes and they can also see bioluminescence below them by using their curved, mirror-like lenses and retinas below each primary eye. Can you see both sets? These fish live in the twilight zone of the ocean and are one of the few species that does not migrate towards the surface to feed at night, instead it chooses to stay in the depths all day and all night.
Hey Kids! Squirt here with more updates from the DEEPEND crew!
The scientists have been at sea for an entire week now but the weather has not been working in their favor. There's a video that we received from the DEEPEND team that I'd like you to see! Unfortunately I haven't been able to pull it away from our FaceBook page so if you're not following us yet, you can find it under this link; https://www.facebook.com/deependconsortium/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel
In the video, you can clearly see a crew member struggling to retrieve and secure the sonar equipment. The team that we send out has to be extremely dedicated to the work they are doing. Imagine having to work while the weather is causing ten-foot waves! It's only the first week of the cruise so I sure do hope the weather settles down.
Although the weather has been difficult, our scientists have managed to sample their chosen locations (on and off) just like before.
Below you can see a Smalleye Squaretail. These fish feeds on jellyfish and salps!
The team has also spotted another Velvet Whalefish! This whalefish (below) feeds on crustaceans! This fish in particular was close to eight inches in length and was trawled between 1,000 and 1,200 meters in depth!
The team also ran into one of my cousins! Meet another deep-sea squid!
Here is a close-up of a tentacle!
That's all for now! Let's hope the weather calms down for the team!
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; http://www.outreach.deependconsortium.org/index.php/kids-blog/entry/the-mocness-monster
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!
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!
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?
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! 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!
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!
Hey Kids! Squirt here to talk about blind lobsters!
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!
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!
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!
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!