As the Ocean Twilight Zone expedition on the NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow off the US East Coast winds down, the scientists aboard are taking the measure of the immense amount of data that’s so far been collected over the past 13 days.
In addition to acoustic data, net samples, and images from Deep-See, the team has collected environmental DNA (eDNA) samples from the water on every one of nine Deep-See dives at a range of depths within the ocean twilight zone. They have also taken water samples on 16 separate CTD deployments that they then filter and freeze for genetic analysis later.
All together, the team has collected 136 separate eDNA samples. These will help reveal the different types of creatures—fish, jellyfish, and zooplankton—that occupy the ocean twilight zone even if the team didn’t capture an individual or even an image.
"This will tell us more about the biodiversity of the water, said Rene Francolini, a research assistant at WHOI in Annette Govindarajan’s lab. “It will fill in some gaps and help answer questions about the true biodiversity of our waters.