It's All About Age and Growth; Natalie Slayden
Hi! My name is Natalie Slayden, and I am a Master’s student at Nova Southeastern University working as a Research Assistant in Dr. Tracey Sutton’s Oceanic Ecology Lab. This DEEPEND cruise is my first research cruise!
Photo: Natalie and Nina prepping the MOC
On this DEEPEND cruise, I am a part of the fish processing team. The process begins with the boat pulling the MOCNESS which is a net system consisting of six nets. One net fishes open the entire time, while the other five nets open and close at different depths allowing us to determine where we catch certain species by depth in the water column. Once the nets are pulled out of the water, the fishes are brought into the lab per net. Dr. Tracey Sutton sorts and identifies each fish to species. I then weigh, measure, and preserve the fishes based on how they will be utilized. All this information is entered into the DEEPEND database by my partner in crime, Nina Pruzinski. Several universities use these fishes for varying projects.
For my thesis project, I am looking at the otoliths (ear stones) of non-vertically migrating deep-pelagic fishes to determine their age. I will also describe the otolith patterns and correlate those patterns to the life history of the fishes. Fishes have otoliths to help them orient themselves within the water column and detect sound. The otoliths have rings that can be counted to determine age. The rings can represent days, months, years, or a single meal. The fishes I will use for my project are frozen so that I can remove and analyze the otoliths once I get back to the lab at Nova Southeastern University. Below are some pictures of the fishes that I will be using for my age and growth study!
Photo 1: Nannobranchium lineatum (Lanternfish species)
Photo 2: Chauliodus sloani (Viperfish species)