image credit: Dante Fenolio / DEEPEND

Cruise title: DEEPEND (Deep Pelagic Nekton Dynamics)

Lead PIs: Tracey Sutton

Partners: Guy Harvey Oceanographic Research Center, Nova Southeastern University; US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Location: ​​Gulf of Mexico

Dates: 04 September 2024

About: DEEPEND will begin a series of surveys examining mesopelagic-benthic coupling over continental slope features of interest in the Gulf of Mexico, with emphasis on deep coral reefs. Preliminary evidence suggests enhanced mesopelagic fish and shrimp abundance at locations where deep scattering layers impinge upon abrupt topographic features. This impingement likely supports benthic and demersal biomass over reef features as well as large pelagic predators (e.g., endangered Rice’s whale) whose distributions are centered on this oceanic rim habitat.

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