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Bringing the Message Home

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By Lisa Rose-Mann

Hello again! I’m Lisa Rose-Mann and I’ve made it back on the R/V Point Sur for my second cruise with DEEPEND. YES! My research focuses on contaminants in the tissues of animals from the Gulf of Mexico. I am analyzing the stomach contents of Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares) and Blackfin Tuna (Thunnus atlanticus) and the fish themselves to discover if any persistent organic pollutants (POPs) like, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs), pesticides, and phthalates are present in their muscle or liver tissues. I use a method developed by Dr. Isabel Romero for the GC/MS/MS to detect these compounds in the tissues. The Gulf of Mexico has an enormous watershed which can bring many of these compounds to the ocean from runoff and PAHs occur both naturally and as a result of oil spills. It was especially striking for me on this trip out to see the marker on the navigation chart where the Deepwater Horizon oil platform once was. I couldn’t help but to take some time to reflect on what happened thirteen years ago and try to imagine what that must have been like out here on the water. The effects of the spill are still being studied by many scientists including myself.

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Me and a squid from dissections; Dr. Isabel Romero and I in the lab.

Over the past year I have been very fortunate to be a NOAA Gulf B-WET (Bay Watershed Education and Training) fellow. I’ve been able to bring science to the classrooms of 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders of some Title I schools in St. Petersburg, FL. They have really enjoyed the program and the specimens I’ve been able to introduce them to. After a few visits to the classroom and their own atmospheric observations they come to The Clam Bayou which is an Education and Outreach center for the USF College of Marine Science. There we provide an experiential learning experience for the kids in their own watershed. We take the kids fishing with the seine net, teach them about the importance of mangroves and explore a fresh plankton sample under the microscope, my personal favorite. I’ve already shared with them that I am on this cruise, and they are all watching the ship tracking and blogs. I’m really hoping to be able to connect with them online while I’m out here and introduce them to some of the coolest scientists I’ve been able to work with so far. And I really can’t wait to share some of these unique animals with them too! Shout out to Betsy, Kate, Nash, and students!

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Photo of students (and me with them bottom left) at The Clam Bayou observing plankton.

And while those awesome kids are pretty far away from me right now, I cannot help but notice the little kids we all are on the inside in each of the scientists on board this vessel. The awe of each net’s product, the joy of discovering something never seen before, the ah ha’s shouted as the number of fin rays distinguishes one species from another. I can see it in their eyes, their smiles and utter passion for what they do.  I always admire their endless conquest to answer some of those questions we carry forward from our own childhood curiosity…what is that, what’s that for, and why.

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Photo of the MOCNESS (Multiple Opening-Closing Net and Environmental Sensing System) as it arrives to the deck.

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Dr. Heather Judkins is an associate professor in the Integrative Biology Department at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. She received a Bachelors degree in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island, Masters degree in Science Education from Nova Southeastern University and her PhD in Biological Oceanography from the University of South Florida. Her research focuses on understanding the evolution, ecology, and biogeography of cephalopods with a main focus currently in the Wider Caribbean. Her role in this project includes the identification of deep-sea cephalopods, examining genetic diversity, and analysis of cephalopod ecology and distribution in the water column.
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