Meet the next generation of deep-sea researchers: Tabitha Pearman

Tabitha Pearman
The National Oceanography Centre University of Southampton; Spitfire

I am a fourth year PhD student at The National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton.

My PhD ‘Habitat Mapping of Cold-Water Corals in Submarine Canyons’ takes an interdisciplinary approach to improve our current understanding of the processes driving cold-water coral habitat distribution within the Whittard Canyon, North East Atlantic.

A cold-water coral reef and Brisingid starfish at Whittard Canyon, North-East Atlantic. ©NOC

My research has demonstrated that integrating oceanographic data into predictive models of canyon epifauna can improve their performance and looks to understand the role of internal tides in driving and maintaining epifauna distributions in canyons.

As part of my doctoral training, I have undertaken a research placement at NIWA where I was developing methodologies to identify density thresholds for cold-water coral vulnerable marine ecosystems. I also undertook a placement at CEFAS experiencing working at the interface between research, evidence based management and policy.

Retrieving samples from the ROV Isis after a deployment at Whittard Canyon during the JC166 cruise.

These opportunities together with my previous experience in marine consultancy and benthic taxonomy have equipped me with the skills and knowledge to participate in working groups for identifying vulnerable marine ecosystems and producing a standardised deep-sea morphospecies catalogue for the North-East Atlantic.

I enjoy sharing my enthusiasm of the marine environment by participating and designing activities for scientific outreach and public engagement as part of the Public Engagement with Research at the University of Southampton.

The cold-water coral stand at the National Oceanography Centre open day.

I hope that my contributions to research will be to improve the methods for identifying and mapping deep-sea habitats to enable greater comparability of data to assist management.

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