Mission Statement

DEEPEND|RESTORE research focuses on the open-ocean, pelagic fauna of the Gulf of Mexico from the surface to 1500 m depth. Our studies of faunal composition, abundance, variability, biophysical drivers of community structure, and petrogenic (e.g., oil spill) contamination will greatly improve our understanding of pelagic systems in general and will facilitate ecosystem-based management of the Gulf of Mexico large marine ecosystem. 

Scope of Work Statement

DEEPEND|RESTORE expands upon research conducted during the NOAA-supported Offshore Nekton Sampling and Analysis Program (ONSAP; 2010-2015) and the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative-funded Deep-Pelagic Nekton Dynamics of the Gulf of Mexico (DEEPEND) Consortium (2015-2019). We will continue the only existing time-series dataset of deep-pelagic nekton (fishes, cephalopods, and shrimps) in the Gulf of Mexico. We will focus on studying the dramatic and persistent declines of pelagic nekton in the Gulf since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the drivers of these declines, and the likely ramifications of these declines/recoveries to living resources being managed in the Gulf. 

DEEPEND|RESTORE’s major research objectives are to: 

  • - Extend quantitative analysis of the oceanic Gulf fauna over time and space
  • - Identify sentinel species whose abundances reflect ecosystem state in the Gulf, and possible responses to disturbance
  • - Classify pelagic habitat structure and biophysical drivers of community structure
  • - Produce identification guides for the oceanic Gulf fauna
  • - Develop analytical indicators (e.g., biochemical markers) of oceanic ecosystem state
  • - Integrate this information with ongoing resource management in the Gulf of Mexico