Researchers from the FSU Coastal and Marine Lab and the University of North Florida returned to port on October 16th after completing their second research cruise aboard the Research Vessel Apalachee (and 7th overall cruise since 2011) to investigate deepsea fish communities and the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on these vulnerable and poorly studied species. This work is conducted as part of the FSU-led Deep-C research consortium (deep-c.org) funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. The scientific crew included FSU Research Professors Dr. Dean Grubbs and Dr. Chip Cotton, FSU graduate students Johanna Imhoff, Cheston Peterson, Alejandra Mickle, Bianca Prohaska, and Brndan Talwar and University of North Florida graduate student Arianne Leary. The R/V Apalachee was piloted by Captain Rosanne Weglinski and Assistant Captain Chris Bogan.
During the 9-day voyage, the R/V Apalachee logged more than 2,800 KM (>1,500 nautical miles) and researchers sampled fishes captured in traps and on hooks set at depths ranging from 100 to 1,920 meters deep. A multitude of samples were collected from the more than 450 fishes that were caught. These samples are used in a variety of studies of taxonomic relationships, reproductive systems, life history patterns, food webs and diets, mercury accumulation and toxicology. The researchers captured 24 species of bony fishes including commercially important species such as hakes, tilefish and red snapper as well as poorly studies species like giant snake eels, grenadiers (rattails) , and cutthroat eels. The researchers also captured 13 species of sharks including three giant bluntnose sixgill sharks between 436 and 467 cem long and the first arrowhead dogfishes caught in the survey. They even caught more than 130 slimy hagfishes from three species.