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Larval Fish

Category: General Article

Back to Creep into the DEEPEND

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Summary: Graduate student Nina Pruzinsky shares her work at studying larval tuna in Dr. Sutton’s shipboard laboratory.

Hello from the Oceanic Ecology lab!

Today, I spent all day working in Dr. Tracey Sutton’s lab. I started my day sorting through DEEPEND samples. First, we remove the crustaceans and gelatinous zooplankton so we can ship them to the specialists for further identification. Then, comes the fun stuff! We start to identify the deep- sea fish! Each sample is filled with a lot of different fish species. We see hatchetfish, viperfish, fangtooth, bristlemouth, dragonfish, lanternfish, whalefish and many other species!

It’s always exciting to see all of the different deep-sea fish and their different adaptations that help them survive in the deep. Some fish have large, fanglike teeth, large tubular eyes, lures, and photophores. Once we identify the species, we weigh and measure each fish.

I spent the afternoon looking at my fish species, tuna! I am identifying the larval and juvenile tuna that we collect in the Gulf. The fish can be less than as small as 4 mm. That’s smaller than the width of the nail on your pinky finger.

Since juvenile tuna are so hard to identify, my thesis project will be one of the first studies on this topic. I’m very excited about that! I use pigmentation patterns to identify the little larval tuna. I also count the fin rays of juvenile tuna Fin rays are the stiff structures that hold the fin up or help it move. Can you count the number of fin rays of this tiny tuna? As you might guess, I spend most of my time at my microscope. I also measure and weigh each larval and juvenile tuna as well.

I will keep you guys updated on my project’s progress! Go tuna!

Nina Pruzinsky, Graduate Student

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Working in the R/V Point Sur Lab

What are the working conditiions like for Nina Pruzinsky and the other DEEPEND scientists? In a word... cramped.

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