DEEPEND|RESTORE is a 47-member, 11-institution research program funded by NOAA's RESTORE Science Program that expands upon the decade-long (2010-2020), open-ocean Gulf of Mexico research conducted during the NOAA-supported Offshore Nekton Sampling and Analysis Program (ONSAP) and the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative-funded Deep-Pelagic Nekton Dynamics of the Gulf of Mexico (DEEPEND) Consortium. This project aims to identify/quantify long-term trends in the offshore fauna (fishes, shrimps, and cephalopods) of the Gulf of Mexico. Further, DEEPEND will integrate this information with ongoing resource management in the Gulf of Mexico. This management includes economically and ecologically important pelagic fishes as well as marine mammals, sea birds, and sea turtles. In addition to baseline assessments, DEEPEND will identify key drivers of offshore assemblages, develop an ‘indicator species plan’ for detecting anthropogenic changes, and assemble a faunal inventory for the oceanic Gulf of Mexico. To learn more about our mission, team, research, products, and management applications, please dive into the rest of the DEEPEND|RESTORE website. 


Special Issue of Oceanography magazine

14 July 2021
Special Issue of Oceanography magazine

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 culminati...

DEEPEND Compendium - Deep Pelagic Ecosystem Dynamics in a Highly Impacted Water Column: The Gulf of Mexico After Deepwater Horizon

10 March 2021
DEEPEND Compendium - Deep Pelagic Ecosystem Dynamics in a Highly Impacted Water Column: The Gulf of Mexico After Deepwater Horizon

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 Hor...

DEEPEND scientist to give NOAA webinar: The open ocean Gulf of Mexico: what have we learned about this remarkable pelagic ecosystem?

09 October 2020
DEEPEND scientist to give NOAA webinar: The open ocean Gulf of Mexico: what have we learned about this remarkable pelagic ecosystem?

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 h...


Dr. Edie Widder did it again! With her colleague, Dr. Nathan Robinson, Edie used her MEDUSA camera platform to capture video of a live giant squid deep in the Gulf of Mexico during a recent NOAA Ocean Exploration and Research-supported cruise. This is the first recording of a live giant squid in the Gulf of Mexico (Atlantic Ocean, for that matter), and only the second such filming ever. Of course, the first was done by none other than…  Dr. Widder, who also captured the first-ever footage of a live giant squid in the waters off Japan. The research cruise, entitled “Journey into Midnight: Life and Light Below the Twilight Zone,” was led by Dr. Sönke Johnsen of Duke University. Please read Sönke’s story here. Regarding DEEPEND, five of the twelve scientists onboard were DEEPENDers, including Co-PIs Tammy Frank, Heather Judkins, Heather Bracken-Grissom, Danté Fenolio, and DEEPEND Director/PI Tracey Sutton. Dr. Heather Judkins was first to identify the animal in the video as a giant squid, with this diagnosis later confirmed by DEEPEND Co-PI Dr. Michael Vecchione. Adding to the DEEPEND vibe was the fact that the cruise was conducted on the R/V Point Sur (University of Southern Mississippi, operated by LUMCON), on which all of the DEEPEND deep-trawling efforts have been based. Spectacular ship-time services, as always.

The giant squid story has been a global media sensation, featured by the NOAA Office of Exploration and Research; Discovery Channel; NY Times; Washington Post; USA Today; OCEANX; and CNN, among hundreds of others.

In addition to MEDUSA deployments, the Journey into Midnight science team had a number of other exploratory operations, including midwater trawling below 1000 m depth, ROV video transects with specimen collection, and shipboard measurements of the vision, bioluminescence, and reflectivity (color) of animals inhabiting the bathypelagic realm, earth’s largest and least-explored habitat. With respect to trawling, Dr. Sutton collected specimens for 14 ongoing projects, demonstrating the importance of sampling in addition to observation. Without such sampling, taxonomy (the science of knowing what species you are observing) would not be possible! We would instead be left wondering, “Oooh, that thing in the video looked so cool! What was it?” In total, 129 fish, 57 crustacean, and 13 squid species were collected, including many rare species, some of which we suspect are new records or new to science.

Among other scientific achievements of the cruise, Drs. Sutton and Fenolio were able to record the bioluminescence display of the Threadfin Dragonfish (Echiostoma barbatum) – something so fantastic it is hard to believe it is real.  Owing to the skilled collection abilities of the ROV pilots, many specimens made it to the surface in near perfect condition, allowing for a range of high-resolution anatomical studies. With respect to vision in the midnight zone, a primary aim of the crustacean survey was to assess the ability of deep-sea shrimps to visually identify each other (i.e., conspecific recognition). Achieving this aim included measuring eye size to body length ratios across 15 species of shrimp, modeling the distances at which their bioluminescent signals remain detectable, and predicting the appearance of these signals in context of their visual acuity.

So, from all of the DEEPEND team, our deepest congratulations to Edie and Nathan! This was a testament to your hard work and ingenuity!