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NSU Scholarship Fishing Tournament

Matthew Woodstock

The Parasites and Ecology of Deep-Sea Fishes in the Gulf of Mexico

The open-ocean waters of the Gulf of Mexico have a vastly different array of fishes at night than during the day. Deep-sea (> 200 m depth) fishes migrate upwards to shallower waters at night to feed on small crustaceans, and are consumed by commercially important fishes, such as tunas and billfishes.

Once eaten, the parasites of the prey fish are transferred to their next host to complete their life cycle.       I have found that specific parasites can be found in specific fishes. Different fishes also eat different types of crustaceans, potentially being a necessary mechanism for parasites to move from one life stage to the next. The knowledge of the parasite fauna of the deep-Gulf of Mexico will amplify our understanding of the food web interactions that take place in a region that, compared to coastal waters, is relatively data poor.

The money from the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation’s Fishing Tournament Scholarship serves to help pay for tuition, expediting my research by allowing for more time in lab. This financial freedom has also allowed for the opportunity to go on a 2.5-week research cruise in the northern Gulf of Mexico with the DEEPEND (Deep Pelagic Nekton Dynamics of the Gulf of Mexico) crew and present my research at three conferences. Moving forward, I will be examining the parasites in greater detail to ask the question: why do we find certain parasites in certain fishes? 

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