DEEPEND Consortium

Creep into the DEEPEND: September 28 to October 9, 2015

Research Project: Deep-Pelagic Nekton Dynamics of the Gulf of Mexico

Students become part of the DEEPEND consortium, a group of deep-sea scientists investigating the biodiversity and distribution of animals in the Gulf of Mexico’s deep-sea ecosystem. The deep is by far the largest affected habitat from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. The consortium includes more than 30 scientists from 11 different universities and agencies, led by Dr. Tracey Sutton (Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center).

 

Video courtesy of the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s Oceanscape Network

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Deep-sea Creatures, they’re so transparent!

This lobster larva is just one of the many amazing creatures our Science Team will share with kids around the country during our Creep into the DEEPEND Virtual Research Mission September 28 to October 9.

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Joins WhaleTimes at the DEEPEND, no floaties required!

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Elusive Giant Isopod

Dear Virtual Science Team,

Photo 3 Giant Isopod Creep into the Deep 640 x 433Though we hoped to see many giant isopods so we could learn more about their vision. So far they have eluded us. Maybe on the next ROV dive or maybe the Medusa secretly videoed them dancing and singing after the ROV left!  Wouldn’t that cool?

Tammy
Dr. Tamara Frank
Chief Scientist and Deep-Sea Explorer
Creep into the Deep Mission:
Bioluminescence and Vision on the Deep Seafloor 2015 Expedition, NOAA-OER

PS Click here to watch a fun video about giant isopods from our friends at the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s Oceanscape Network.

The Medusa

Hello Virtual Science Team,
MEDUSA Creep into the Deep 640 x 383Today is the fifth day of our cruise and the Medusa is on her second drop. This is the first time for the Medusa to be in the Gulf of Mexico. The Medusa is a camera system designed to explore the deep sea in a new way – one that focuses on attracting animals instead of scaring them away.  I became interested in a different way of exploring after many years of diving in submersibles and using Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs). Both convinced me that animals were avoiding the bright lights and noisy thrusters on these standard exploration platforms.
My solution was a camera platform that was quiet and that could see without being seen by illuminating with red light that is invisible to most deep sea animals and that used an optical lure. MEDUSA Atolla and eJelly example Creep into the Deep 640 x 339What’s an optical lure? It’s a ring of dim blue lights that imitates the bioluminescent burglar alarm display of a deep-sea jellyfish. The burglar alarm might startle the predator and entice bigger predators to swoop in for a quick meal of the would-be predator. When the e-jelly on the Medusa lights up, it lures animals closer so we can capture them on video.
It has been remarkably successful and has recorded some amazing things including the first video ever recorded of a giant squid in the deep sea!  We probably won’t see any giant squid on this mission but I’m always hopeful that we’ll see something completely new and exciting.
ANIMAL Cutthorat eel photo from Medusa Deep sea Shrimp Heterocarpus ensifer Creep into the Deep 609 x 480Here is a photo from its first deployment on this cruise, a very cool eel.
It’ll be exciting to find out what else the Medusa saw in the deep!
Cheers,
Edie
Dr. Edith Widder
Marine Biologist and Deep-Sea Explorer
Creep into the Deep Mission:
Bioluminescence and Vision on the Deep Seafloor 2015 Expedition, NOAA-OER

Tusk, horn, or clam?

Hi Virtual Science Team,
ANIMAL #6 Tusk Shell Scaphopod Creep into the Deep 640 x 400Our Global Explorer ROV happened upon this We also saw what we think is a Scaphopod. This odd-looking creature is related to a clam, so it has a shell like a clam does. But it has this unusual cone shape.  Because it’s shaped like a tusk, it’s also called a tusk shell. Usually, they’re found buried in the sediment (dirt), with the narrow end up, but this little thing was moving along, dragging its huge shell behind it.  We never did figure out why it didn’t like the section of mud that it was already on. I guess that’s an advantage of having your home on your back. You can pick up and move if you don’t like the neighborhood!
Tammy
Dr. Tamara Frank
Chief Scientist and Deep-Sea Explorer
Creep into the Deep Mission:
Bioluminescence and Vision on the Deep Seafloor 2015 Expedition, NOAA-OER

Weird but true…it’s a fish

ANIMAL #5 Ipnops an unusual fish Creep into the Deep 640 x 469Hi Virtual Science Team,
Our Global Explorer ROV happened upon this very unusual fish called Ipnops. Those two bright yellow patches on the top of its head are its eyes.  It doesn’t have lenses, because those cut out too much light.  Basically, the eyes are naked retinas, with a layer of reflecting pigment below them, which is what gives it them that yellowish glow when you shine a light on it.
Tammy
Dr. Tamara Frank
Chief Scientist and Deep-Sea Explorer
Creep into the Deep Mission:
Bioluminescence and Vision on the Deep Seafloor 2015 Expedition, NOAA-OER