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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.


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;

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!


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!
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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! 


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Hi everyone! I'm still at sea and am having a great time. I met some new friends today that are just like me - FLAT!! You may know these guys as flounders. These flatfishes are really young and still have one eye on each side of their head. As they get bigger, one of their eyes will rotate to the other side before they settle on the seafloor. Since they live on the seafloor and bury themselves in the sand for camouflage, it is necessary for both of their eyes to be on one side of their head so that they can still see.


We have also collected many other types of fish that live really deep in the ocean where there is no light! The only light that exists there is made by the organisms that live there. This angler fish has a modified fin ray that has a bioluminescent light at the end of it which most people call a lure. They call it that because they think that the angler fish uses the light to lure in their prey. The other pictures show several other types of fish that we commonly collect.

b2ap3_thumbnail_ceratias-uranoscopus-640x480.jpg Angler fish Ceratias uranoscopus


Dolicholagus longirostris, Chauliodus sloani, Sigmops elongatus Sigmops elongatus (black/silver fish), Dysalotus alcocki


Nannobrachium lineatum

We have been very busy out here working around the clock to sample both day and night. I will post more pictures and give you an update tomorrow on our progress!

Flat Stanley

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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? 


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! 



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. 



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! 



Here is an adult Flying Fish!


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. 



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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Hello everyone! We've been very busy sampling the deep Gulf of Mexico and have caught a lot of really neat animals! This is red shrimp (Acanthephyra acutifrons) that lives between 500-1000 meters - that is over 2,000 feet!


When the animals come on board the scientists sort them by type and identify each of them to species. Then they hand them off to be weighed and measured which is where I help out. They even weighed me!

b2ap3_thumbnail_small-stanleys-12.jpg       b2ap3_thumbnail_small-stanleys-2.jpg

After they have been recorded in the computer, we save them for several different groups who will run further tests on them. For example, DEEPEND team members sequence the DNA from a piece of muscle tissue for each species we collect. This is Max and Travis collecting tissue from the fish.

b2ap3_thumbnail_small-stanleys-6.jpg                b2ap3_thumbnail_small-stanleys-1_20160505-140504_1.jpg

Well, I better get back to work - I hear the net coming in now! We're still having trouble connecting to the internet but I will try to update you again soon!


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Hello! The weather got much better and we were able to load the ship with all of our gear. This is the RV Point Sur. It is a 136 foot ship that originally sailed in the Pacific Ocean for Moss Landing Laboratory but was recently purchased by the University of Southern Mississippi and now sails in the Gulf of Mexico. We use this ship because it has a lot of cable that conducts electricity to communicate with our fishing gear in very deep waters. Below is a picture of me standing on the frame of our fishing gear, a 10-meter MOCNESS (Multiple Opening/Closing Net and Environmental Sensing System). Right now all you can see is the frame because we put the nets on while we're at sea. I'll post more pictures later so that you can see it all put together.


We also had to use a forklift to unload the acoustic transducer which is an instrument that uses sound to detect layers of organisms in the water column. You will see some pictures of this in a later post.


We departed early on Saturday morning and it took about 18 hours to get to our first station. We've been able to collect some environmental data from the water but due to technical difficulties we have not been able to deploy the MOCNESS yet. I will be sure to take some pictures and post again later today or early tomorrow to show you what we collect!

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I am glad that we made it safely to Gulfport, MS last night because I woke up to severe flooding alerts this morning! As you can see from the weather radar there is a lot of rain and lightning coming from this storm. They have also shown that a lot of the roads nearby are flooding...

b2ap3_thumbnail_stanley-weather-radar-2.jpg                          b2ap3_thumbnail_stanley-flooding.jpg

Unfortunately, this means that we will have to wait to unload the gear onto the ship. It may also mean flight delays for the rest of the science party. We have one scientist driving from Florida who will certainly be delayed by the flooding on the highway. I am hoping that the weather clears up before we are supposed to depart! In the meantime, we are dry and comfy in our hotel watching the rain and flooding roadways. The beach front view is not that great, but at least we are not out in that weather! We wish everyone safe travels today.


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After two days of driving, one major detour, a bunch of horse farms and a few torrential downpours....we finally made it to Gulfport, MS! It has been quite an adventure already and I have not even boarded the ship yet. Along the way we ran into some pretty bad traffic on I-75 and had to take a detour through the beautiful countryside near Ocala, FL where there are many horse farms like this one....

b2ap3_thumbnail_stanley-horse.jpg   You can follow my travels on Instagram too - deepend_gom

I had a nice comfortable ride in the van with full control of the radio stations! The only time I got nervous was after we crossed into Alabama and ran into some bad storms. You can barely see the road through all that rain! 

 b2ap3_thumbnail_stanley-car.jpg   b2ap3_thumbnail_stanley-rain.jpg 

This is the tunnel that runs underneath Mobile Bay in Mobile, Alabama. Just think about all the fish that must be in the water just above our heads!


By the time we reached the Mississippi state line it was too dark to take a picture but just an hour later we reached the hotel in Gulfport, MS. Now I'm ready to get some sleep before my big day tomorrow unloading the gear. Goodnight!


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Hi everyone! I'm Flat Stanley and I will be joining the DEEPEND Team on their next cruise. I have never been to sea before and am excited to see what types of animals they bring up from the deep ocean! Today we will start our journey from the Fort Lauderdale, FL area to bring all the gear to the ship in Gulfport, MS. As you can see, we packed a lot of gear!


b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_5541.jpg   b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_5544.jpg

These are the nets that go on the MOCNESS frame and catch fish! Here I am with the DEEPEND team after we successfully fit everything in the van. Now we must hit the road! I will be sure to blog about my trip and post pictures along the way. Gulfport or bust!

b2ap3_thumbnail_Picture1.jpg  Bye!


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As I was preparing for our next research cruise I received a very exciting letter in the mail! In fact, it was more than just a letter…it was Flat Stanley! ( He wants to join us on our research cruise. How could I say no? He travels light, does not take up much space, and will not require any extra food! Better yet, he has decided to join us in the van while we drive the gear from Dania Beach, FL to Gulfport, MS where the RV Point Sur is docked. It will be good to have him out there with us to show him all of the cool shrimp, squid, and fish that we collect. If we happen to lose any of our tools in tight spaces he will be able to fish them out for us! We’ve set him up with his own blog profile so that he can blog about his experiences with you guys! So keep checking back between April 27th and May 14th to learn about his first official deep-sea cruise!

b2ap3_thumbnail_Flat-Stanley-2.jpg            b2ap3_thumbnail_FS-at-computer-2.jpg

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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! 



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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