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Sampling deep sea creatures off the east Australian coast

Nereus Alumnus Natasha Henschke (Princeton University) is currently at sea on the RV Investigator, sailing off the East Australian coast. She is working as the deputy chief scientist, helping to collect data that will allow, for the first time, the relationship between open ocean production and coastal fisheries off south eastern Australia to be established. The voyage will be used to study the Tasman Sea ecosystem and examine the link between plankton and fisheries in the region.

On board is a deep sea fish taxonomist, Andrew Stewart, Museum of New Zealand, who is identifying the species using taxonomic techniques, such as counting hundreds of fin rays, and who will provide the expert verification of specimens. Henschke is also working with Iain Suthers, Chief Investigator and Professor at the University of New South Wales, and Amy Rose Coghlan, Research Assistant, Sea Around Us.

“We opportunistically caught a lot of pyrosomes,” says Henschke. Pyrosomes are similar to salps. They are blob-like “sea pickles” that form colonies that can reach thousands of individuals. “We had 80 KG of them in one haul! So Iain, Amy, and I have begun a pyrosome respiration experiment onboard.”

Check out some photos of their research so far:

Amy Rose Coghlan and Natasha Henschke seen here performing a spur of the moment experiment on board the RV Investigator currently at sea off the East Australian coast.

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