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Grad student tackling acoustics onboard

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Post by Matt Woodstock

Hey everyone!

My name is Matt Woodstock and I am a PhD Candidate at Florida International University working under Dr. Yuying Zhang. The focus of my dissertation research is to develop computer models that simulate conditions we observe in the Gulf of Mexico and answer ecosystem-level questions about the ecology of the system. Examples of these types of questions are changes to food web structure as populations fluctuate over time, the influence of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the mortality rates of mesopelagic animals, and vertical nutrient transfer by vertically migrating fishes and cetaceans. Ecosystem-based modelling is rarely done in the oceanic zone because it requires a lot of data, but because of projects like DEEPEND these types of research questions are feasible. Previously I completed a masters under Dr. Tracey Sutton studying the diet and parasites of mesopelagic fishes in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Dr. Boswell (right) and I (left) securing acoustic equipment to the CTD as a way to monitor fish behavior.

 

This is my third research cruise and second on the R/V Point Sur with the DEEPEND crew! My main job is to help Dr. Kevin Boswell gather our acoustic data by setting up gear and monitoring the data as it comes in. Aside from the few hours that we are moving between stations, we are constantly collecting acoustic data. I am also helping Dr. Isabel Romero collect and filter water samples for chemicals in the water column using a CTD. The acoustic and water chemistry projects are collaborating by placing an automated acoustic transducer on the CTD and collecting water at the same time that the deep scattering layer (a collection of deep-sea organisms in the water column recognizable through acoustic receivers) moves by. Being out at sea is one of my favorite things to do as a scientist and each time is special!

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 Left:  Dr. Romero (left) and Dr. Boswell (right) deliberating on the best game plan for sampling.

 

 Right:  My main workstation that has monitors of real-time data from the acoustic equipment.

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Dr. Boswell with the main acoustic gear during assembly prior to the cruise.

 

 

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Dr. Heather Judkins is an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. She received a Bachelors degree in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island, Masters degree in Science Education from Nova Southeastern University and her PhD in Biological Oceanography from the University of South Florida. Her research focuses on understanding the evolution, ecology, and biogeography of cephalopods with a main focus currently in the Wider Caribbean. Her role in this project includes the identification of deep-sea cephalopods, examining genetic diversity, and analysis of cephalopod ecology and distribution in the water column.

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