Month: August 2018

What Lives in the Ocean’s Twilight Zone?

Ann Bucklin (Professor of Marine Sciences) participated in a research cruise aboard the R/V Henry B. Bigelow exploring the deep layers of the North Atlantic Slope Water with oceanographers and engineers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and National Marine Fisheries Service. The expedition during August 10-21, 2018 was the inaugural cruise of the Ocean Twilight Zone initiative (OTZ, see, a 6-year, $35 million effort that is using innovative technologies to document the ocean’s mysterious midwater layer. A combination of sonars, cameras, and sampling systems was used to try to quantify how many and what kind of animals live in this dimly-lit swath of ocean hundreds of meters below the surface. They found an abundance of marine life including zooplankton, squids, salps, and fish. The findings suggest that the sea’s murky depths might host more life than we thought.

Bucklin OTZ

Photo credit: Jennifer Berglund

Learning About the Hidden Lives of Predators

University of Connecticut Department of Marine Sciences research professor emeritus Peter Auster and colleagues, including a Marine Sciences student serving as an intern, just returned from a cruise at Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Georgia. With funding from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, they were continuing a decade long study examining the behavioral interactions between predatory fish and their prey. This year, they expanded the scope of their research by using new 360-degree virtual reality video cameras that allow researchers to record interactions over time periods beyond that of divers and without human interference and over. The field of view of the video covers nearly a 360 degree sphere around each camera so pelagic predators high in the water column as well as reef predators are captured as the interact to herd and attack schools of prey fishes. Understanding the functional role of such interactions can aid both conservation and sustainable fisheries goals in these sub-tropical reef ecosystems.

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underwater camera  Peter and Jeff