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Hi everyone! My name is Natalie Howard and I’m a master’s student in Dr. Jon Moore’s lab at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. This is my first time participating in one of the DEEPEND/RESTORE cruises and I am very excited to be here! I was introduced to the project while pursuing my undergraduate degree at the University of South Florida. While I was there, I helped Dr. Heather Judkins with pteropod data, and she introduced me to Dr. Jon Moore, where I now work with fish collected from the cruises.


This is an image of Melamphaes suborbitalis. It’s one of the larger Melamphaes, with an average standard length that’s over 90 mm! It also has a small spine on the top of its head, which is a distinguishing trait of this species.

My thesis project is focused on vertical migration and diversity of Melamphaes (Melamphaidae). The Melamphaes fish we find in the Gulf of Mexico are relatively small, averaging between 20- and 30-mm standard length and are dark brown in color. These fish reside in the meso- and bathypelagic zones during the day but will migrate into shallower waters at night to feed and avoid predation. This behavior is referred to as diel vertical migration, which I will be investigating as part of my research project. There have also been many recent taxonomic revisions of the family Melamphaidae, so I’m hoping that we find one of the newly identified species on DP09! 

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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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Guest Friday, 14 June 2024