DEEPEND is so pleased to share this special issue of Oceanography magazine dedicated to ten years of GoMRI science! You can access the electronic version of the issue here.

The issue is the culmination of a decade of GoMRI research and includes a collection of articles describing the key advances, surprises and novel discoveries for the Gulf of Mexico and other regions where GoMRI's interdisciplinary and collaborative research was conducted and has application. Also included are lessons learned and outstanding research needs and gaps to inform future activities and efforts. Enjoy!

The DEEPEND team, led by Tracey Sutton and his co-editors, have completed a compendium of 14 papers published in Frontiers in Marine Science that highlight their findings related to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (DWHOS). DWHOS was primarily a deep-pelagic event that highlighted the paucity of baseline data for deep-ocean ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) and elsewhere. The deep pelagial was by far the largest GoM habitat affected by the DWHOS. For this special topic issue, papers covering much of the gamut of research from the DEEPEND Consortium (, along with additional related papers concerning deep-pelagic research are included.

Download the entire e-book here (open access): Frontiers Research Topics: Deep Pelagic Ecosystem Dynamics in a Highly Impacted Water Column: The Gulf of Mexico After Deepwater Horizon



DEEPEND-RESTORE Director and Scientist Dr. Tracey Sutton will give a NOAA webinar on October 27th and 12:00PM EST titled: "DEEPEND scientist to give NOAA Seminar: The open ocean Gulf of Mexico: what have we learned about this remarkable pelagic ecosystem?"

See the announcement and link to participate here:




Renowned taxonomists (including DEEPEND-RESTORE Director, Dr. Tracey Sutton), scientific illustrator, experts and editors take on the challenge of mesopelagic fish identification.  

Click here to see the announcement from the EAF-Nansen Programme

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge



Dr. Tracey Sutton (Lead Investigator), along with 11 other Principle Investigators, has recently received funding to lead a deep-sea pelagic research project in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) RESTORE Science Program. The research team will investigate the trends and drivers of pelagic community structure and abundance, from the sea surface to ~ 1 mile deep (1500 m), in the north central Gulf of Mexico. The project will run from 2019 to 2024, with the possibility of extended funding to take the project to 2029. One of the project’s main aims is to identify long-term trends in fish, shrimp, and squid abundance, and determine how observed trends relate to environmental changes and human pressure (e.g., pollution). The ultimate goal of the project is to provide information that can be used by resource managers to protect the natural resources of the Gulf. Sampling (with midwater nets and acoustics) begins in the Gulf of Mexico this August (COVID safety permitting) aboard the University of Southern Mississippi research vessel Point Sur.

Photo by Rosanna Milligan—Dr. Tracey Sutton retrieving the MOCNESS on the back deck of the R/V Point Sur.

The newly published book Into the Deep: Science, Technology, and the Quest to Protect the Ocean, by Christy Peterson, demonstrates the ways in which researchers utilize technology to understand and mitigate the harmful effects of human activities on the oceans. The book is divided into two sections: the first section, The Physical Ocean, addresses climate change, sea level rise, ocean mapping, global circulation, and hypoxia, while the second section, The Living Ocean, discusses specific organisms, their habitats, and their key roles in the marine environment. These topics include: phytoplankton, zooplankton, hydrothermal vents, coral reefs, ocean acidification, depleted fish populations, jellyfish, the deep-sea fauna, diel vertical migration, blue whales, detritus, the ocean carbon cycle, and computer modeling for projecting/predicting the future state of the ocean.

Each chapter includes biographies from several scientists from around the world, including DEEPEND’s Director, Dr. Tracey Sutton, and Research Associate, Nina Pruzinsky. The DEEPEND Consortium’s research is highlighted in Chapter 10, entitled Life in the Twilight Zone. The open-ocean environment, diel vertical migration, food webs, and deep-sea sampling technology are discussed in this chapter.

Into the Deep targets students in Grades 5-8 and is highly recommended for students wishing to pursue careers in science.

Release date: April 7, 2020

A Special Issue of Frontiers in Marine Science is being published about the results of DEEPEND’s research over the past five years. The special issue will be titled: Deep Pelagic Ecosystem Dynamics in a Highly Impacted Water Column: The Gulf of Mexico After Deepwater Horizon. The special edition will begin with a description of DEEPEND’s aims, approaches, and rationale for studying the patterns and processes of the oceanic Gulf of Mexico in relation to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and then followed by a methodology paper. The remaining topics include: pelagic community abundance and distribution, time-series analysis, environmental drivers of ecosystem structure, and trophic interactions. Research papers also focus on biodiversity, connectivity, behavior, diel vertical migration, carbon flux, the biological pump, anthropogenic impact, and the epipelagic zone as nursery habitat for both shallow- and deep-living taxa.

Currently, there are nine publications available online, with a total of 16 papers to be published this year.

Keep checking the Frontiers website to see the additional papers that will be published!



Today (April 20, 2020) marks the 10th year since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. Approximately 5 million barrels of hydrocarbons (oil) spilled into the Gulf for 87 days following the explosion, and since then, DEEPEND (along with several other consortia) have been researching the effects that the oil spill had on the Gulf’s entire ecosystem. Oil reached the seafloor, the open-ocean water column, coastal areas, continental shelf regions, and even was found in marshes and estuaries. “It was an entire Gulf of Mexico-wide event,” Dr. Tracey Sutton said in an interview with Oceana.

Often, people remember the oil that was visible at the surface; however, it’s important to know that 100% of the oil occurred within the water column and affected life throughout the entire ecosystem, especially in the poorly-studied deep pelagic environment ( > 200 m depth) where the Macondo wellhead broke (~1500 m depth).

“As far as we know, the actual impact of the spill is not over yet,” Dr. Tracey Sutton explained in Oceana’s interview.

In another interview with the Independent, Dr. Sutton stated, “In 2017, we were still finding oil contaminants in the eggs [of deep-sea organisms] above levels known to be sublethal for animals. We also saw an overall decline in animal numbers.”

With industry drilling deeper for resources, the risk of another spill occurring increases. Dr. Sutton told the Independent, “another deepwater spill is still very much a real possibility.”

Photo by: U.S. Coast Guard—Reuters/Landov