TONMOCON VII at MBL, April 6-8, 2018

Last Updated: 4/5/18

Welcome! We're very excited about our next cephalopod conference, TONMOCON VII at Marine Biological Laboratory — Biological Discovery in Woods Hole from April 6-8, 2018.

General info and past history can be found here: TONMOCON: The Biennial Cephalopod Conference

Threads / discussions here; questions welcome and let us know if you're coming!: TONMOCON & Ceph Conferences





6:30pm - 9:30pm:

3-Hour Evening Social Mixer (beer & wine)'s like a red carpet for ceph heads!
Swope Meigs Room



doors open / take seats

Introduction / TONMO Update
Tony Morelli (tonmo), Founder & Webmaster,

"The Missing Ink: Innovations to Cuttlefish and Squid Husbandry"
Bret Grasse (Bret Grasse MBL), Manager of Cephalopod Operations at MBL

"Underwater Neighbors: The ecology of two octopus species in a Florida lagoon"
Chelsea Bennice (Octo Girl), Ph.D. Candidate at Florida Atlantic University

"It's like Airbnb, but with octopuses: A vision for tank space hosting"
Christine Zalewski (O. cyanea), Ph.D., Owner, Silver Spiral Seas, LLC

"Cephalopod Water Quality and Life Support Design"
Barrett L. Christie, Director of Animal Husbandry at The Maritime Aquarium


"Scientists Seriously Can't Handle This Adorable Lil' Stubby Squid"
Samantha Wishnak, Digital Media Coordinator at E/V Nautilus
Summary: Work with cephs? Hold on with your suckers, you've got scicomm gold! The team behind the googly eyes seen around the world shares takeaways from expedition outreach and social media aboard Exploration Vessel Nautilus. Curiosity and excitement is contagious, and sharing what happens behind-the-cephalo-scenes makes studying and exploring even the deepest reaches of our planet seem possible for the next generation of explorers, scientists, and engineers. Come for the #scicomm tips, stay for the squid vids.

"Pyjama Prints: Identifying Individual Markings of Sepioloidea lineolata"
Kristene Bonilla, Cephalopod program intern at MBL

Exclusive pre-recorded video segment:
"A molecular map of Octopus neuronal innovations: Thinking outside of the skull" with Gabrielle Winters (Gabrielle Winters)

"Using Modern, Innovative Methods to Save an Ancient Animal: Deep Sea Conservation of Nautiluses"
Dr. Greg Barord (gjbarord), Conservation Biologist, Save the Nautilus / Marine Biology Instructor, Central Campus


"Arm in arm: MBL collaborations advance microinjection methods for Cephalopod lineage analysis and transgenesis"
Karen Crawford, PhD, Professor of Biology, St. Mary's College of Maryland

"Octopus Hatchlings Flash Red When Exposed to Ketamine"
Jonathan Miller (Jonathan Miller), Associate Professor, Computational Biology
Summary: Zdenek Lajbner, Reuven Pnini, Jessica Gordon, Courtney Timmons, Michael Kuba, Tamar Gutnick, Eric Edsinger, Jonathan Miller -- Several species of octopus hatchlings flash red chromatophores in vitro at an ambient background rate. Low concentrations of ketamine significantly and reversibly increase the frequency of red flashes, with insignificant mortality to the animals. These experiments suggest the potential suitability of cephalopod hatchlings for high-throughput screening of pharmaceuticals, in particular, neuroreceptor [ant]agonists, wherein conventional assays are expensive, awkward, and unreliable. It further opens the possibility that ketamine could decouple the mapping of visual field to optical cortex from the mapping (if any) of optical cortex to skin.

"Cephaloproblem Solving: An Anecdotal Guide to Navigating the Health and Welfare Needs of Giant Pacific Octopuses (GPOs)"
Sarah Sprague, M.Sc., Aquarist/Dive Safety Officer, SEA LIFE Michigan
Summary: At a site level, SEA LIFE Michigan has been able to employ various problem-solving strategies to ensure the best possible care for our current Giant Pacific Octopus, Mera. These approaches will be exemplified through the study of two comprehensive treatment programs that we have employed with Mera over the past couple of years. By illuminating and resolving two separate husbandry-related issues, we were able to generate protocols and make recommendations that other SEA LIFE sites would be able to reference. In order to create a community within the eight North American SEA LIFE sites, where aquarists can reference treatment plans like this, discuss husbandry-related questions, problems, and ideas, SEA LIFE Michigan spearheaded an effort to create the SEA LIFE National Cephalopod Working Group. This group has been up and running for six months, and has allowed aquarists from every North American SEA LIFE site to coordinate with one another in regards to cephalopod operations. Beyond coordinating on a national level, SEA LIFE also supports a Global Octopus Working Group, comprised of researchers from around the globe. This group is focused on Cephalopod research and exhibit development. By focusing on problem-solving strategies at a site level, national level, and global level, SEA LIFE is working to establish the best possible standards of care for our animals while also investing in a well-connected and capable husbandry staff. These broad topics will be covered primarily through the lens of everyday husbandry and problem solving with SEA LIFE Michigan's GPO, Mera.


"Cephalopods Are The New Dinosaurs"
Dr. Danna Staaf (Danna), author, Squid Empire
Summary: 500 million years ago in the Cambrian Period, when nearly all animals were benthic, cephalopods became some of the first creatures to rise from the seafloor and enter the pelagic realm.Their buoyant shells allowed them to grow into Earth's first truly substantial animals, like 3.5-meter-long Endoceras giganteum. Subsequent evolution gave rise to the ammonoids, a lineage so abundant and diverse that it practically defines the concept of “index fossil.” And yet, despite their inherent fascination, for many centuries ancient shelled cephalopods have remained frustratingly enigmatic. Without fossilized soft parts, it has been extremely difficult to reconstruct the animals, their habits, and their habitats. However, in recent years technological advances and renewed research interest have led to an explosion of discoveries about extinct cephalopods. Computed X-ray tomography now allows scientists to peer inside fossils, revealing stomach contents and even nerve fibers! Laboratories have begun to utilize 3D scanners and 3D printers to finally test long-standing hypotheses about ammonoid shell shape. Decay experiments have solved the conundrum of how modern squid evolved themselves out of the fossil record, by abandoning the chambered shell in favor of ammonia for buoyancy. As these and many other lines of research gain momentum, we could find ourselves on the cusp of an “ancient cephalopod renaissance” echoing the 1970s “dinosaur renaissance.”

"Next Top Model: Choosing the First Cephalopod Genetic Model Species"
Taylor Sakmar, Cephalopod Culture Specialist at MBL

"Say hello to my little friend: beneficial relationships between bacteria and squid"
Sarah McAnulty (Sarah McAnulty), Ph.D. Candidate at UConn

"Cephalopod Behaviour"
Dr. Roger Hanlon, Senior Scientist at MBL
Summary: The 2nd edition of this book (2017, Cambridge University Press; with coauthor John Messenger) summarizes the wealth of exciting new research data stemming from over 500 papers published since the 1st volume appeared in 1996. It adopts a comparative approach to causation, function, development and evolution as it explores cephalopod behavior in natural habitats and the laboratory. Each of the 11 chapters will be explained and illustrated in this presentation. Extensive color and black-and-white photography and video illustrate various aspects of cephalopod behavior to complement the scientific analyses. Covering the major octopus, squid and cuttlefish species, as well as the shelled Nautilus, this is an essential resource for undergraduate and advanced students of animal behavior, as well as researchers new to cephalopods, in fields such as neuroscience and conservation biology. By highlighting the gaps in current knowledge, the text looks to inform and to stimulate future study of these beautiful animals.

Door Prizes & Wrap-up
Tony Morelli (tonmo), Founder & Webmaster,


6:30pm - 9:30pm:
3-Hour Evening Social Mixer (beer & wine), plus vendor tables
Swope Meigs Room



doors open / take seats

TONMO Monty Awards, Door Prizes
Tony Morelli (tonmo), Founder & Webmaster,

Exclusive pre-recorded video segment: "What's happening at Octopolis?" with Peter Godfrey-Smith (pgs)

"How to make an octopus: insights from the genome"
Dr. Carrie Albertin, Hibbitt Fellow at MBL

"Gatsby's Green Light: Locally Sourcing Food For Non-native Cephalopods"
Gabby Armstrong, Cephalopod program intern at MBL

"Euroceph: What has the change in legislation meant for the european cephalopod community?"
Dr. Kerry Perkins, Octopus Work Group SEA LIFE, COST action FA1301 workgroup leader


"Optimizing Ova Production: Striped Pyjama Squid, Sepioloidea lineolata"
Emma Galeucia, Cephalopod program intern at MBL

"How to make an eye: The evolution and development of the squid visual system."
Kristen Koenig

"Measuring Hormones in Cephalopods: a New Noninvasive Technique"
Stephanie Chancellor, PhD candidate at University of Illinois at Chicago

"Establishing a novel model for cephalopods: development of genetic tools in pygmy squid"
Mathieu D. M. Renard, Research Intern at MBL / Master's Student


"Dissecting the Structure and Function of Cephalopod Chromatophores"
Sean R. Dinneen, Ph.D. Candidate, University of New Hampshire

"Working with the Fishing Community to Study Squid Fisheries, Oceanography and Distributional Ecology"
Owen Nichols, Director, Marine Fisheries Research, Center for Coastal Studies and PhD Candidate, School for Marine Science and Technology, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
Summary: Squid are an important component of marine ecosystems and support commercial and recreational fisheries. Environmental effects on squid distribution create complex problems for the management of seasonal fisheries at multiple scales. Fishermen and scientists are working together to decompose these complex problems into testable scientific hypotheses, bringing a variety of skills and disciplines together to conduct collaborative research and fill data gaps vital to management of a sustainable fishery. Integrating fishermen's knowledge and expertise with the scientific method has led to novel research and new insights into squid distributional ecology. Understanding how ocean temperature and other environmental factors drive when and where squid go has important implications for fisheries science and management.

"How will cephalopods fare under climate change?"[/url]
Casey Zakroff, PhD Candidate, MIT/WHOI Joint Program, Sensory Physiology and Sensory Ecology Lab, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

"Octocams: A simple scalable system for short-term to lifecycle monitoring of behavior in aquaria"
Eric Edsinger


1. Mariculture room
-Cephalopod breeding program: Bret's team will be stationed at each modular system to show the various species and answer any questions
-Roger Hanlon systems: Victoria from Roger's team will be stationed to answer any questions
-Eric Edsinger's octo rack: Eric and/or his team will be there to show off their animals

2. Tank room
-Local species tour, get a feel for some of the other science going on at MBL. Dan/Lindsey (MRC Animal Care Technicians) will be around for a limited time to showcase local flora/fauna

3. Squid collection introduction
-This will be staged by our squid collection vessel (Gemma) where we will have squid nets, jigging rigs for them to see
-Owen Nichols will lead this station and has arranged for some guest squid fishermen and additional props. Thanks Owen!

4. NOAA Aquarium special access!
-Final arrangements coming together. The aquarium is usually closed during this day/time but the team is working on an exception for an hour or so following our conference.


Registration Now Closed

Email me or private message me if you have questions / special needs.

Let Facebook know you are interested, or going: #tcon7 Event Page

Here is the thread to use if you'd like to coordinate travel & stay with other TONMOers: TONMOCON VII Transportation

Here is our general announcement thread: TONMOCON VII Announced

Please use #tcon7 in social media mentions. :heee:

Questions? Email me or just private message me here on TONMO.

--Tony Morelli, Founder, Webmaster,
About the Author
Tony converted into an octopus and cephalopod interest site in May 2000. (Find out more about how TONMO started by reading this blog entry.) He began his career in the online services industry in 1992, working for companies such as Prodigy,, Reuters and Comcast. Tony and his wife Tania are the owners of Deep Intuition, LLC, which is an entity they created to support their entrepreneurial hobbies and pursuits. He graduated from St. Bonaventure University with a B.A. in Mass Communication and lives in Pennsylvania.

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