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On the hunt for the Black Swallower!

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My name is Hannah Johnson and I am currently pursuing my Master’s of Science degree in Marine Science under Dr. Tracey Sutton at Nova Southeastern University. I am lucky enough to attend my first DEEPEND/RESTORE cruise on R/V Point Sur this year. While the focus of my thesis project relates to the reproductive habits of the deep sea fish genus Chiasmodon (Scombriformes; Chiasmondontidae), my predominant purpose on this cruise is to help record the collection of all the deep sea fauna we find.  


The MOC coming onboard from a night tow (Photo: H. Johnson)

I work with Dr. Rosanna Milligan and April Cook to weigh, measure, and preserve each specimen.  We log the specimens into the database to be able to document various notes, along with the measurements, site collection, and much more.

It is extremely important that we ensure each speciment gets preserved properly as many scientists and students will use our specimens for projects, even years later.  For example, the fish genus Chiasmodon I work with was caught and documents 10 years ago!  Thanks to great preservation techniques, I am able to do kinds of analyses with their reproductive tract as well as gut and diet analysis by my colleague Travis Kirk.




We were able to catch a Chiasmodon sp. with a full stomach!

 It has been an amazing experience to see first-hand what goes on during the DEEPEND cruises. It helps to give insight into how the lab specimens from years ago were collected.

Thanks for reading!

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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 Wednesday, 19 June 2024