School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr Thomas Linley

Research Associate

Background

I am a postdoctoral research associate within Dr Alan Jamieson's research team. I am particularly interested in the fish of the world’s deepest places, specifically the abyssal (3000 to 6000 m deep) and hadal (>6000 m depth) zones. The abyssal zone makes up the majority of the Earth’s surface (54%) and with only a few exceptions forms a continuous circumglobal habitat with very stable conditions. While the two zones are directly connected the hadal zone, most commonly occurring in the deep subduction trenches, is isolated and varied. While the fish in both of these zones have adapted to huge pressure, their habitat is very different.

I have been lucky enough to be involved in many firsts including the discovery of the ethereal snailfish which featured in Blue Planet II. On the same cruise we captured the Mariana snailfish (Pseudoliparis swirei), likely the deepest living fish, and went on to describe it as a new species and the illustrate the paper. The Mariana snailfish went on to be the focus of an award-winning NHK documentary ‘Deep Ocean: Descent into the Mariana Trench’ narrated by David Attenborough.

Examples of my biological/taxonomic illustration.

While there are many things that we can only learn from physical specimens, I am specifically interested in filming animals in situ. The damaged corpses recovered do not do justice to the animals in life, where they show natural behaviour, and may be partly to blame for the idea that they are monstrous. Using baited lander systems is a cost/time effective, non-fatal and non-destructive means of collecting data.

Video of how free-falling landers work.

I enjoy fieldwork and have accrued over 600 days of seagoing experience. I believe a good understanding of the equipment you use, particularly if you are going to use it in the field with no hope of shopping for spares. It is important to me that I am able to deploy, maintain and develop my own equipment. Low cost, full ocean depth, HD video and still cameras and illumination with fully customisable sequences and logging form the crux of my research and are constructed in-house. This has led to skills in engineering, equipment development and programming.

Deploying and recovering landers at sea

I enjoy public outreach and try to do as many public talks and events as I can, as well as maintaining a presence online through Twitter and other online forums.

Dissection of a deep-sea fish

 

Google Scholar

SCOPUS

Twitter

Research

Conference and Meeting presentations

  1. CoralFISH science meeting, Milan - "Associated ichthyofauna of cold water reefs: observations from baited photographic lander deployments". 2010
  2. Euro ISRS Symposium, The Netherlands - "Associated ichthyofauna of cold water reefs: observations from baited photographic lander deployments". 2010
  3. EuroSITES final science meeting, Crete - "Seafloor observations of megafauna in the Pylos region". 2011
  4. MASTS, Edinburgh - “Associated ichthyofauna of cold water reefs: observations from baited photographic lander deployments“. 2011
  5. World Conference on Marine Biodiversity, Aberdeen - “Associated ichthyofauna of cold water reefs: observations from baited photographic lander deployments“. Digital object submission; 5min video/animation.
  6. CoralFISH science meeting, Crete - "Review of the BRIL (autonomous photographic lander) dataset for regions 1, 3 and 6 and new data acquired at region 3 and 4". 2011
  7. CoralFISH science meeting, Galway. Poster presentation - "A review of the lander systems within the CoralFISH project". 2012
  8. 5th International Symposium on Deep-sea Corals, Amsterdam - "The link between cold water corals and fish, examples from across Europe – Observations from a baited photographic lander". 2012
  9. ISA-INDEEP Megafauna Workshop, Wilhelmshaven, Germany - "Introductory Guide to Fish Taxonimy". Fish taxonomic expert during the workshop. 2013
  10. MASTS ASM, Edinburgh - "Current Projects: The Deep-Sea Fish of the Pacific Rim" ePoster. Winner of the best student poster award. 2013
  11. Challenger Society Conference, Plymouth - "The absence of abyssal Coryphaenoides spp.(Macrouridae) in the northern South Fiji Basin and the shallower occurrence of Bassozetus sp.(Ophidiidae) in their absence" 2014
  12. MASTS ASM, Edinburgh - "The absence of abyssal Coryphaenoides spp. (Macrouridae) in the northern South Fiji Basin and the shallower occurrence of Bassozetus sp. (Ophidiidae) in their absence" 2014
  13. Aberdeen University Postgraduate Conference, Aberdeen - "The absence of abyssal Coryphaenoides spp. (Macrouridae) in the northern South Fiji Basin and the shallower occurrence of Bassozetus sp. (Ophidiidae) in their absence" 2014
  14. Deep Sea Biology Symposium, Aveiro - "The loss of scavenging fish fauna at the abyssal/hadal transition and the implications of trench systems with atypical vertical zonation" 2015
  15. MASTS ASM, Glasgow - "A newly discovered hadal liparid (Pisces: Liparidae) from the Mariana Trench" 2015
  16. STRONGMAR Conference: Sea of Scienceand, Porto -  “Hadal fishes of the Pacific Ocean: baited lander studies from three hadal trench systems” 2016

Teaching

My appointment at Newcastle is entirely research based however I have provided support to our groups student project. I take part in public outreach where possible.

Public Outreach

Visiting Presentations:

  • “Deep Ocean Experience: Exploring the very deepest parts of the ocean, the Hadal Zone (6,000 - 11,000m)” Explore – Lifelong Learning in Newcastle. 2017

Fish Corner radio segment, Natchie Night Fly on BBOX radio, 2015-2016:

  • "New species of snailfish from the Mariana Trench”
  • "Long-term whale bone experiment"
  • "The future of taxonomy, 3D and digital"
  • “Scotland’s cold-seep”
  • “Electrofishes”
  • “Interspecies cooperation”
  • “What is ambergris?”
  • “Noisy fish”

Video interviews:

  • “Understanding deep-sea fish” Schmidt Ocean Institute
  • “Discovering deep-sea fish with Thomas Linley” MASTS science in minutes series
  • NHK documentary “Deep Ocean: Journey to the Deepest
  • Alien Reefs - Cold water corals
Interviews:
Media coverage:
Providing images and video
  • Discovery Channel Canada - Daily Planet - feeding Mariana snailfish - 2018

National Science Festival 2013, Edinburgh Science Museum:

  • "To the Abyss and Beyond" at the Science 'Cabaret' evening
  • Talks three times a day
  • Touch Tank

TechFest:

  • 2013 – “Journey through the abyss”
  • 2014 – “Beyond the abyss”
  • 2015 – “Deep-sea fish are cool, not scary”

Oceanlab open evenings:

  • League of Master Bakers. 2013
  • Aberdeenshire Rotary Club. 2013
  • Slains School. 2014
  • University of Aberdeen Secretariat. 2014
  • Albyn School. 2015

Dove open days:

  • Capturing Our Coasts Deeper than Deep Wine & Science event. 2018
  • Deep Sea Week. 2017
Other outreach:

Publications