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Post by Daniella Milanese

Hello, everyone!

My name is Daniella Milanese and I am a graduate student in Dr. Tamara Frank’s deep-sea biology lab at Nova Southeastern University. I am currently working on my master’s thesis on “Plastic Ingestion of Deep-sea Pelagic and Benthic Decapods of the Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge”. For my thesis, I’ve extracted plastic particles out of pelagic and benthic crustaceans before I find out if ingestion differs by region of the fracture zone.


Photo:  Daniella and Tammy Frank (Photo:  H. Judkins)

Besides my research, this is my first DEEPEND cruise and I am beyond excited to be part of such a wonderful team that works together to survey the Gulf’s deep-water ecosystem. Being in Dr. Frank’s lab, I have worked with majority of the decapod species captured in the Gulf, but to work with fresh specimens is a brand new experience! Being able to see true coloration and pristine photophores is truly a treat and a wonder to see. On this DEEPEND expedition, it’s my job to help identify and process all decapods captured.

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Photo:  Deep Sea Shrimp (Photo: DM)                                       Photo:  Deep Sea Shrimp (Photo: DM)



    Photo:  Fangtooth  (Anoplogaster cornuta) (Photo: DM)

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We left the dock on the R/V Point Sur at midnight and reached our first station in the Gulf of Mexico around 2 pm today.  All supplies, microscopes and equipment got set up and stored away in the dry lab and we settled in for the welcome and safety meeting.  The great news is that since we followed the LUMCON Covid-19 protocols including quarantine, and we are vaccinated, the team is ready work!



Today has been spent putting the MOCNESS together.  This is a Multiple Opening and Closing Net and Environmental Sensing System that we use to collect a variety of organisms from various depths in the midwater column (MOC10).  We will be dropping the 6-net system to 1500 m and collecting animals at different depths as it comes back to the surface.  Part of the team is testing and calibrating the acoustics array which will collect data using sound waves throughout the cruise.  The CTD (measures conductivity, temperature, and depth) has been set up as well which will be deployed to collect water quality data.  Our DEEPEND photographer is spending the day setting up his lab as well.  Things are coming together quite nicely so far.

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We are excited to be out here and ready to do some science!

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The time has come!  Our first NOAA RESTORE cruise efforts are underway.  Strategically packing the van for the trip is the true test for the team.  All the nets, acoustic equipment, microscopes, field guides and supplies are loaded into a van under the watchful eye of April Cook, our amazing program manager at Nova Southeastern University.  Every year, it seems like a miracle that everything fits but it always does!  It takes approximately 12 hours to make the journey through Florida, Alabama, and into Mississippi.  Other team members drive cars/SUVs with their own gear and everyone arrives in Gulfport, MS tonight so we are ready bright and early tomorrow morning to load the gear onto the R/V Point Sur.  Tomorrow will be a day of setting up the dry lab, storing supplies, putting the MOC10 net together, and attaching the acoustics equipment to the vessel so we can leave at midnight.

We are excited to get underway and will update you in the next day or two!

(Photos:  Ashley Marranzino)

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After an odd year dealing with the pandemic, which resulted in one postponed research cruise, the DEEPEND team is gearing up for our first NOAA/RESTORE cruise later this month!  We are excited that we received funding through 2024 to continue our important midwater survey and associated projects.  We have a series of three cruises planned, with the first one going out on April 24th, 2021. We will be exploring the northern Gulf of Mexico using a midwater trawl and acoustic equipment to identify long-term trends in pelagic 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.


The team will be leaving from Gulfport, MS, on the R/V Point Sur for 12 days and we are ready to get to work!  As in the past, we will have a shiptracker and a HYCOM oceanographic model running in real time to help guide our voyage.  We will also maintain a blog to document the various projects and discoveries throughout our journey.  These are all accessible on the home page of the DEEPEND website:   

If you want to read more about NOAA/RESTORE Science program, here is the link:

Looking forward to sharing our experience with you!



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Join DEEPEND at Rock The Ocean’s Tortuga Music Festival in Conservation Village as we find ways to #RockTheOcean in 2019!

When April 12-14, 2019

Where:  Fort Lauderdale Beach, in the Conservation Village

What:  The DEEPEND Booth will have deep-sea trivia, guessing games, and a photo booth this year! You can win glow in the dark anglerfish tattoos or a DEEPEND t-shirt! Come visit our booth while enjoying the sights and sounds of the festival!

As a nominee for ACM Festival of the Year, saving the oceans and shifting to more sustainable habits is something we all want to do, but where do we start? This question can be daunting when wanting to make lifestyle changes to help our oceans. It’s nice to have a little education on how you can make a difference! This is what Conservation Village at Rock The Ocean’s Tortuga Music Festival is all about – educating fans on conservation initiatives, lifestyle changes, and raising awareness for the protection of our oceans. We will be joining 30+ other leaders in ocean conservation to deliver simple, unique ways fans can help save our oceans.


Tortuga Music Festival has grown over the past seven years to become one of the largest music festivals in the world. With this growth, the conservation efforts have grown as well. A few of the on-site efforts this year will include:

  • Minimizing Waste and Reducing Single Use Plastics:
    - Festival Wide recycling
    - Food vendors using only compostable serviceware
    - Provide free water refill stations. Fans will be encouraged to bring and use their own refillable water bottles.
    - No plastic water bottles. Fans can refill their water bottles at a water refill station or Open Water in aluminum cans will be available for purchase.
    - No plastic straws. We have a straw by request only policy, substituting plastic straws with ocean friendly paper straws.
    - Donation of all leftover food. 
    - New in 2019: Reduce single-use plastic by purchasing a limited Tortuga Music Festival Pint Cup! Purchase one with your first drink and use it all weekend long!
  • Supporting Sustainable Food Systems:
    - Tortuga is committed to only serving sustainable seafood. This means that any seafood item served at the festival must be caught or farmed in environmentally responsible ways. Vendors must source seafood that is listed as a “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative” by The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program.
    - Additionally, we are committed to only serving meats raised without the use of antibiotics and produce that has been sourced from within 200 miles of the festival site. This is in order to support the local community and promote positive animal welfare practices.
  • Encouraging Alternative Transportation:
    - Fans will be encouraged to take advantage of alternative transportation options that reduce the emissions associated with fan travel to and from the festival.     Alternatives include:
    ▪    Water Taxis
    ▪    Shuttles

If you or someone you know will be at this year’s Tortuga Music Festival, come see us and learn how you can help #RockTheOcean!

Learn More

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