May 29, 2017 · Uncategorized

As with all of my images posted here, they are for your enjoyment and are not public domain, all are copyrighted.  Please do not copy, download, post online, or reuse in any fashion the photographs that I have posted without express written permission to do so.  Any use of my images must be approved in writing.  To access the images I have posted, you must click on the subject heading link above.  By doing so, your action serves as legal recognition of my stated copyright restrictions; it signifies your willingness to use the images only after written permission is provided, and it acknowledges that failure to follow the rules is a violation of international copyright law.  Thank you for your cooperation.

Mission Statement for this NOAA funded project:  The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (DWHOS) was primarily a deep-pelagic (water column depths below 200 m) event. Variable amounts of discharged hydrocarbons and dispersant reached the ocean surface and/or seafloor, whereas 100% occurred within the water column, with a massive plume observed within the deep-pelagic realm (centered at ~1100 m). The deep-pelagic habitat is by far the largest affected by the DWHOS. Unfortunately the paucity of information about deep-ocean ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) limits our ability to assess and predict the magnitude and consequences of changes to food webs and overall ecosystem structure. The likelihood of future spills, given the steady growth of oil exploration and operations, emphasizes the need to document acute and chronic effects on pelagic fauna.

Understanding the pelagic ecosystem is important. Of the ~1500 species of fishes that occur in the GoM, about half spend all or part of their lives in the open-ocean. Deep-pelagic fishes constitute the majority of fish biomass on Earth. Most mesopelagic (200-1000 m depth) species of fishes, as well as cephalopods and crustaceans, vertically migrate each night to feed in epipelagic (0-200 m) depths and return to deep water during the day. This behavior affects rapid cycling of natural and anthropogenic material in the water column. Deep-pelagic nekton (fishes, shrimps and squids, collectively) also serve as prey for shallow-living game fishes, seabirds, and marine mammals. We must therefore develop the knowledge base required to estimate deep-pelagic vulnerability to impacts and recovery after disturbance, and we must develop means for valuation of deep-ocean ecosystem services.

DEEPEND (Deep-Pelagic Nekton Dynamics) will investigate deep-pelagic communities on short-term (sub-generational) and long-term (evolutionary) timescales to appraise extant recovery and potential future recovery of these communities, using a suite of integrated approaches. These approaches include: 1) a direct assessment of GoM deep-pelagic community structure, with simultaneous investigation of the physical and biological (including microbial) drivers of this structure, in order to document biodiversity and ‘natural’ variability; 2) a time-series, ‘hindcast,’ comparison of biophysical data from 2015- 2017 (DEEPEND sampling) to 2010-2011 DWHOS data; 3) an examination  of differences in genetic diversity among key species; and 4) an assessment of the extant and potential future consequences of the DWHOS on the shallow and deep-pelagic biota.

The DEEPEND Consortium will conduct a 3-year sampling and analysis program that builds on the synergy developed during two intensive NOAA NRDA programs (ONSAP and DAP; 2010-11), as well as adding several new dimensions. In lieu of intervention for restoration in the classic sense, which is impractical in the deep pelagial, DEEPEND proposes expansion of knowledge as a restoration tool. DEEPEND has four major research objectives:
1) Define community structure, abundance, and distribution of deep water column fauna;
2) Document biophysical drivers of ecosystem structure;
3) Determine genetic diversity among representative pelagic taxa;
4) Predict potential consequences of the DWHOS on the GoM pelagic fauna and microbial flora.

An integrated outreach program will disseminate DEEPEND consortium activities to scientific, educational, and public sectors.

Here are images from our last several research cruises in May, 2016 & 2017:

Telescopefish (Gigantura chuni)

Telescopefish (Gigantura chuni)

Telescopefish (Gigantura chuni)

Telescopefish (Gigantura chuni)

A female Linophrynid - the lower right inset is the "beard" and the upper right inset is the "lure" or esca

A female Linophrynid - the lower right inset is the "beard" and the upper right inset is the "lure" or esca

Every now and again we bring something up from the depths that is really special. This is the 23rd known specimen of the "Deceitful Dreamer" (Lophodolos indicus). The name, according to fishbase, comes from "describing a deceitful little fish that beguiles its prey with a baited illicium." This is my first time photographing a specimen from this genus. Yes, this fish has a pair of pointy "horns" on its forehead and the illicium is hinged. The inset to the lower right is a close up of the esca or "lure." Gulf of Mexico, May 2017.

Every now and again we bring something up from the depths that is really special. This is the 23rd known specimen of the "Deceitful Dreamer" (Lophodolos indicus). The name, according to fishbase, comes from "describing a deceitful little fish that beguiles its prey with a baited illicium." This is my first time photographing a specimen from this genus. Yes, this fish has a pair of pointy "horns" on its forehead and the illicium is hinged. The inset to the lower right is a close up of the esca or "lure." Gulf of Mexico, May 2017.

A female anglerfish (Oneirodes carlsbergi) - inset is a close-up of the esca

A female anglerfish (Oneirodes carlsbergi) - inset is a close-up of the esca

A deep sea shrimp (Oplophorus) ejects a glowing fluid from its body to distract potential predators.  This is a defensive mechanism.

A deep sea shrimp (Oplophorus) ejects a glowing fluid from its body to distract potential predators. This is a defensive mechanism.

It just doesn't seem like a DEEPEND  cruise without a Threadfin Dragonfish (Echiostoma barbatum).  The lure at the end of the barbel glows in the dark.

It just doesn't seem like a DEEPEND cruise without a Threadfin Dragonfish (Echiostoma barbatum). The lure at the end of the barbel glows in the dark.

A male Whipnose Anglerfish (Gigantactis) top and a female below

A male Whipnose Anglerfish (Gigantactis) top and a female below

Melanostomias tentaculatus

Melanostomias tentaculatus

A Sutkis Toadfish (Chaunax suttkisi)

A Sutkis Toadfish (Chaunax suttkisi)

Larval Sutkis Toadfish (Chaunax suttkisi)

Larval Sutkis Toadfish (Chaunax suttkisi)

Meet the family Opisthoproctidae (Barreley, Spookfish, and Mirrorbelly) - distinctive fishes. All species have tube shaped eyes and most also have a clear gelatinous tissue surrounding their visual organs. Not a lot of images out there of specimens in good shape. Here are three species we got during DEEPEND cruises: Top- the Brownsnout Spookfish (Dolichopteryx longipes), Middle- the Glasshead Barreleye (Rhynchohyalus natalensis), Bottom – the Mirrorbelly (Monacoa grimaldii).

Meet the family Opisthoproctidae (Barreley, Spookfish, and Mirrorbelly) - distinctive fishes. All species have tube shaped eyes and most also have a clear gelatinous tissue surrounding their visual organs. Not a lot of images out there of specimens in good shape. Here are three species we got during DEEPEND cruises: Top- the Brownsnout Spookfish (Dolichopteryx longipes), Middle- the Glasshead Barreleye (Rhynchohyalus natalensis), Bottom – the Mirrorbelly (Monacoa grimaldii).

On the phenomenon of "net feeding" - sometimes predatory deep water fishes get into the collection cannister of the net and find a host of potential food items. It is hard to believe that under stress like that, these fishes will feed - but they do. This is a Fangtooth (Anoplogaster cornuta) and all of the items it ate while in the net. Gulf of Mexico, May 2017.

On the phenomenon of "net feeding" - sometimes predatory deep water fishes get into the collection cannister of the net and find a host of potential food items. It is hard to believe that under stress like that, these fishes will feed - but they do. This is a Fangtooth (Anoplogaster cornuta) and all of the items it ate while in the net. Gulf of Mexico, May 2017.

The scales of Sloan's Viperfish (Chauliodus sloani)

The scales of Sloan's Viperfish (Chauliodus sloani)

Had a pair of Tube-eyes (Stylephorus chordatus) in the nets this morning....love the eys. Gulf of Mexico, May 2017.

Had a pair of Tube-eyes (Stylephorus chordatus) in the nets this morning....love the eys. Gulf of Mexico, May 2017.

The lateral photophores of Sloan's Viperfish (Chauliodus sloani)

The lateral photophores of Sloan's Viperfish (Chauliodus sloani)

Cocco's lanternfish (Gonichthys cocco). One of my favorite lanternfish. Gulf of Mexico, May 2017.

Cocco's lanternfish (Gonichthys cocco). One of my favorite lanternfish. Gulf of Mexico, May 2017.

A bioluminescent shrimp (Notostomus gibbosus) - to celebrate National Shrimp Day. These shrimp can grow to lengths of roughly six inches and eject a glowing cloud of fluid when threatened. They also store ammonia in their carapace to achieve neutral buoyancy. Gulf of Mexico, May 2017.

A bioluminescent shrimp (Notostomus gibbosus) - to celebrate National Shrimp Day. These shrimp can grow to lengths of roughly six inches and eject a glowing cloud of fluid when threatened. They also store ammonia in their carapace to achieve neutral buoyancy. Gulf of Mexico, May 2017.

The crew caught a Wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri) from the ship today. It had a strange ectoparasite (possibly a copepod) at the crease of its pectoral fin and the body. It also had two large stomach flukes in its stomach. Hidden biodiversity.....Gulf of Mexico, May 2017.

The crew caught a Wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri) from the ship today. It had a strange ectoparasite (possibly a copepod) at the crease of its pectoral fin and the body. It also had two large stomach flukes in its stomach. Hidden biodiversity.....Gulf of Mexico, May 2017.

Wahoo ectoparasite (copepod), caught @ the surface, Gulf of Mexico, May 2017

Wahoo ectoparasite (copepod), caught @ the surface, Gulf of Mexico, May 2017

So you think mosquitoes are bad? This hatchetfish is having a bad day...more like a bad few weeks to months. We just so happen to have a marine parasite specialist on board with us - Matt Woodstock. He explained to me that the copepod parasite on the outside of this fish, an ectoparasite, has attached and used its mouth part to pierce the outer wall of the fish. That mouth part then wraps around the internal organs of the fish and specifically pierces the digestive tract - feeding on whatever the fish has fed on. To make matters worse, the mouth part is barbed...this parasite isn't coming off. Ouch! Photographed in the Gulf of Mexico, May 2017.

So you think mosquitoes are bad? This hatchetfish is having a bad day...more like a bad few weeks to months. We just so happen to have a marine parasite specialist on board with us - Matt Woodstock. He explained to me that the copepod parasite on the outside of this fish, an ectoparasite, has attached and used its mouth part to pierce the outer wall of the fish. That mouth part then wraps around the internal organs of the fish and specifically pierces the digestive tract - feeding on whatever the fish has fed on. To make matters worse, the mouth part is barbed...this parasite isn't coming off. Ouch! Photographed in the Gulf of Mexico, May 2017.

larval Cusk-eel (Bassozetus sp.) was photographed in the Gulf of Mexico, May 2017.

larval Cusk-eel (Bassozetus sp.) was photographed in the Gulf of Mexico, May 2017.

Common in our nets, the Elongated Bristlemouth (Sigmops elongatus) has a nice set of teeth. But more than that, the photophores on the sides of these fish are impressive. The top image in this composite depicts the head of the species, the middle depicts the entire animal and the bottom highlights some of the lateral photophores. I’d love to see this fish alive and with the lights out. Gulf of Mexico, May 2017.

Common in our nets, the Elongated Bristlemouth (Sigmops elongatus) has a nice set of teeth. But more than that, the photophores on the sides of these fish are impressive. The top image in this composite depicts the head of the species, the middle depicts the entire animal and the bottom highlights some of the lateral photophores. I’d love to see this fish alive and with the lights out. Gulf of Mexico, May 2017

One of the brightest orange/red fish I've ever seen. The Velvet Whalefish (Barbourisia rufa) feeds on crustaceans. This individual was roughly five inches in total length and was trawled from between 1000 and 1200m depth, Gulf of Mexico, August 2016.

One of the brightest orange/red fish I've ever seen. The Velvet Whalefish (Barbourisia rufa) feeds on crustaceans. This individual was roughly five inches in total length and was trawled from between 1000 and 1200m depth, Gulf of Mexico, August 2016.

The "Diaphanous Pelagic Octopod" (Japetella diaphana) - Gulf of Mexico, May 2017.

The "Diaphanous Pelagic Octopod" (Japetella diaphana) - Gulf of Mexico, May 2017.

The Snipe Eel (Nemichthys curvirostris) inhabits tropical and subtropical oceans around the world. Backward-facing teeth help it catch and devour crustaceans such as prawns and shrimp - the fine teeth might snare the antennae of the crustaceans in the water column. Gulf of Mexico, May 2017.

The Snipe Eel (Nemichthys curvirostris) inhabits tropical and subtropical oceans around the world. Backward-facing teeth help it catch and devour crustaceans such as prawns and shrimp - the fine teeth might snare the antennae of the crustaceans in the water column. Gulf of Mexico, May 2017.

Written by Dante


Post a comment