2013 News Releases

December 30, 2013

Online Science Expedition Brings Deep Sea Vents to the Computer Screen

Scientists and engineers using advanced technology and a unique robotic vehicle to study the deep sea will also be using their computers to interact with students, teachers, and the public about the research they are conducting.

December 18, 2013

New Study Reveals the Biomechanics of How Marine Snail Larvae Swim

Equipped with high-speed, high-resolution video, scientists have discovered important new information on how marine snail larvae swim, a key behavior that determines individual dispersal and ultimately, survival.

December 11, 2013

Reddy Selected for C.C. Patterson Award

Marine geochemist Chris Reddy has been selected to receive the 2014 Clair C. Patterson Award from the Geochemical Society for his analytical and scientific contributions to organic geochemistry.

December 11, 2013

Susan Humphris Named 2013 American Geophysical Union Fellow

WHOI Senior Scientist Susan Humphris has been elected a 2013 Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

December 9, 2013

Study Offers Economical Solutions for Maintaining Critical Delta Environments

A new study by WHOI geologist Liviu Giosan and his colleagues documents the historic sediment record along the Danube River delta, and offers simple and inexpensive strategies to enhance deltas's natural ability to trap sediment and maintain their floodplains against rising sea levels and increasingly frequent and severe storms.

December 5, 2013

SOI Collaborating with WHOI on World's Most Advanced Deep-diving Robotic Vehicle

Schmidt Ocean Institute is working with the Deep Submergence Laboratory at WHOI to design and build the world’s most advanced robotic undersea research vehicle for use on SOI’s ship Falkor. Capable of operating in Earth's deepest known trenches, the vehicle will capitalize on past WHOI vehicle designs, as well as advanced technologies developed for DEEPSEA CHALLENGER, the submersible explorer and director James Cameron piloted to Challenger Deep in 2012.

December 5, 2013

WHOI Hosts Talk on 'To The Denmark Strait'

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) will host a talk by author Dallas Murphy and videographer Ben Harden on Friday, December 13, about the new book To The Denmark Strait, which features a firsthand account of a modern oceanographic adventure. The free talk will begin at noon in Redfield Auditorium, located at 45 Water Street, Woods Hole, Ma.

November 15, 2013

Woods Hole Oceanographic's Avery to Serve on United Nations Scientific Advisory Board

Dr. Susan Avery, president and director of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), has been appointed to a Scientific Advisory Board announced by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon.

October 23, 2013

Dolphins Assist Scientists Studying Effects of Data-logging Tags

For scientists studying marine mammals in the wild, data-logging tags are invaluable tools that allow them to observe animals’ movements and behaviors that are otherwise hidden beneath the waves much of the time. The tags, which temporarily attach to animals using suction, record sounds and gather information about animals’ pitch, speed, and depth. But what effect do the tags have on the animals?

October 18, 2013

Seeing in the Dark

The Yangtze finless porpoise, which inhabits the high-traffic waters near the Three Gorges Dam in China, is highly endangered, with only about 1,000 animals alive today. Scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and their Chinese colleagues are using medical technology to shed new light on this species’ critical sense of hearing in a waterway punctuated by constant shipping, dredging, and underwater construction.

circulation map
October 18, 2013

WHOI Scientists Receive $11.6 Million to Measure Changes in Ocean Circulation

A new five-year project funded by the National Science Foundation will, for the first time, allow scientists to directly measure these ocean pathways over the entire subpolar region of the North Atlantic. Oceanographers from WHOI and their colleagues from Duke University and the University of Miami will deploy a new observing system to measure the ocean’s overturning circulation in the northern North Atlantic Ocean.


September 19, 2013

Doney receives A.G. Huntsman Award for Excellence in Marine Science

WHOI Senior Scientist Scott Doney has been awarded the 2013 A.G. Huntsman Award for Excellence in Marine Science. He will receive the award later this year at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Since 1980, the Royal Society of Canada has granted the A.G. Huntsman Award to an oceanographer who has made significant contributions in the fields of marine geosciences, physical or chemical oceanography, or biological and fisheries oceanography.

September 13, 2013

Establishing World-Class Coral Reef Ecosystem Monitoring in Okinawa

WHOI researchers, working in partnership with the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, have developed the Ocean Cube Observatory System, a marine observatory system installed in waters off Motobu Peninsula, Japan -- a biodiversity hotspot that is home to ecologically significant coral reefs. The system enables real-time monitoring of temperature, salinity, and other chemical, biological and physical data.

September 12, 2013

Study explores complex physical oceanography in East China Sea

Just days before a team of researchers set out to conduct fieldwork in the East China Sea, Typhoon Morakot—one of the most destructive storms ever to hit Taiwan—made landfall on the island, causing widespread damage and drastically altering the flow of water along the nearby continental shelf. Their research may offer a new understanding of how chaotic and powerful currents form in the East China Sea, and could also reveal how large storms affect those currents.

August 18, 2013

Newly discovered ocean plume could be major source of iron

Scientists have discovered a vast plume of iron and other micronutrients more than 1,000 km wide billowing from hydrothermal vents in the South Atlantic Ocean. The finding, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, calls past estimates of iron abundances into question, and may challenge researchers’ assumptions about iron sources in the world’s seas.

July 24, 2013

Summer Shark Research Heats Up at WHOI

White shark tagging expedition sets sail (July 31), Discovery Channel Shark Week segment "The Return of Jaws" features WHOI's REMUS technology (Aug. 5), and WHOI scientists and engineers share latest research at Woods Hole public event (Aug. 7)

July 19, 2013

First global atlas of marine plankton reveals remarkable underwater world

Under the microscope, they look like they could be from another planet, but these microscopic organisms inhabit the depths of our oceans in nearly infinite numbers. To begin to identify where, when, and how much oceanic plankton can be found around the globe, international researchers have compiled the first ever global atlas cataloguing marine plankton.

July 18, 2013

WHOI Announces 2013 Ocean Science Journalism Fellows

Ten science reporters, writers, and multimedia journalists from the U.S., Canada, and India have been selected to participate in the competitive Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Ocean Science Journalism Fellowship program. The program takes place September 8-13, 2013, in Woods Hole, Mass., on Cape Cod.

July 16, 2013

Study Identifies Deepwater Horizon Debris as Likely Source of Gulf of Mexico Oil Sheens

A chemical analysis of oil sheens found floating recently at the ocean’s surface near the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster indicates that the source is pockets of oil trapped within the wreckage of the sunken rig.  Both the Macondo well and natural oil seeps common to the Gulf of Mexico were confidently ruled out.

July 14, 2013

Scientists solve a 14,000-year-old ocean mystery

At the end of the last Ice Age, as the world began to warm, a swath of the North Pacific Ocean came to life. During a brief pulse of biological productivity 14,000 years ago, this stretch of the sea teemed with phytoplankton, amoeba-like foraminifera and other tiny creatures, who thrived in large numbers until the productivity ended—as mysteriously as it began—just a few hundred years later.

July 8, 2013

Corals cozy up with bacterial buddies

Corals may let certain bacteria get under its skin, according to a new study by researchers at WHOI and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. The study offers the first direct evidence that Stylophora pistillata, a species of reef-building coral found throughout the Indian and west Pacific Oceans, harbors bacterial denizens deep within its tissues.

microscopic scan of microbes on  plastic
June 27, 2013

Scientists Discover Thriving Colonies of Microbes in Ocean 'Plastisphere'

Scientists have discovered a diverse multitude of microbes colonizing and thriving on flecks of plastic that have polluted the oceans—a vast new human-made flotilla of microbial communities that they have dubbed the 'plastisphere.'

June 27, 2013

Robotic probe launcher may transform ocean data collection

Our understanding of the ocean and its variability relies on the tools ocean scientists deploy to collect data. One tool routinely used is the eXpendable BathyThermograph (XBT) probe, which is usually deployed by hand one at a time at sea.

Ben Van Mooy headshot
June 25, 2013

Van Mooy awarded fellowship at Southampton, U.K.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) biochemist Benjamin Van Mooy has been awarded one of two inaugural fellowships at the University of Southampton in England. The Diamond Jubilee International Visiting Fellowship was established last year to commemorate the university’s 60th anniversary and to foster international collaboration.

jim cameron & susan avery
June 14, 2013

WHOI Welcomes Explorer and Director James Cameron and the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER

On Friday, June 14, filmmaker James Cameron delivered the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER, the only human-occupied vehicle currently able to access the deepest parts of the ocean, to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Dr. Susan Avery, president and director of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, along with the scientific research community, welcomed Cameron and the submersible to its new home at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

RNA graphic
June 12, 2013

Deep Biosphere Harbors Active, Growing Communities of Microorganisms

The deep biosphere—the realm of sediments far below the seafloor—harbors a vast ecosystem of bacteria, archaea, and fungi that are actively metabolizing, proliferating, and moving, according a new study by scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the University of Delaware (UD).

Deepsea Challenger, National Geographic
June 11, 2013

Ocean Science and Exploration Are Capitol Hill Focus for Explorer and Filmmaker James Cameron and WHOI President & Director Susan Avery

Explorer and director James Cameron will be on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, June 11, with Dr. Susan Avery, president and director of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for a series of public events and a Senate hearing.

friction properties at fault plane
June 3, 2013

New Explanation for Slow Earthquakes on San Andreas

In a study published this week in Nature Geoscience, scientists provide a new model for understanding the geological source of silent earthquakes, or “creep events” along California’s San Andreas fault.

June 1, 2013

Acidifying oceans could spell trouble for squid

Acidifying oceans could dramatically impact the world’s squid species, and because squid are both ecologically and commercially important, that impact may have far-reaching effects on the ocean environment and coastal economies, the researchers report.

May 30, 2013

Handbook Helping Bay State Residents Prepare for Coastal Hazards Released

Guide Offers Info on Threats, Practical Tips on Keeping Safe and Minimizing Damage

May 28, 2013

Scientists Find Possible Solution to an Ancient Enigma

The widespread disappearance of stromatolites, the earliest visible manifestation of life on Earth, may have been driven by single-celled organisms called foraminifera, study finds.

head shot
May 24, 2013

Buesseler Appointed to Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

WHOI Senior Scientist Ken Buesseler has been appointed a foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.  Buesseler is one of two foreign members in the 2013 cohort of 17 new members.

Alvin sail
May 24, 2013

Newly Upgraded Alvin Sub Heads for West Coast

On Sat., May 25, 2013, the R/V Atlantis will leave Woods Hole carrying the newly upgraded submersible Alvin, marking a major milestone in the sub’s $41 million redesign.

rescuers approach whale in inflatable boat
May 21, 2013

Study reveals how fishing gear can cause slow death of whales

Using a “patient monitoring” device attached to a whale entangled in fishing gear, scientists showed for the first time how fishing lines changed a whale’s diving and swimming behavior. The monitoring revealed how fishing gear hinders whales’ ability to eat and migrate, depletes their energy as they drag gear for months or years, and can result in a slow death.

May 19, 2013

Scientists Explore Roots of Future Tropical Rainfall

How will rainfall patterns across the tropical Indian and Pacific regions change in a future warming world? Climate models generally suggest that the tropics as a whole will get wetter, but the models don’t always agree on where rainfall patterns will shift in particular regions within the tropics.

esp illustration
May 7, 2013

New Robotic Instruments to Provide Real-Time Data on Gulf of Maine Red Tide

A new robotic sensor deployed by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Gulf of Maine coastal waters may transform the way red tides or harmful algal blooms (HABs) are monitored and managed in New England. A second such instrument will be launched later this spring.

May 6, 2013

The Black Sea is a Goldmine of Ancient Genetic Data

When Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) marine paleoecologist Marco Coolen was mining through vast amounts of genetic data from the Black Sea sediment record, he was amazed about the variety of past plankton species that left behind their genetic makeup (i.e., the plankton paleome).

May 2, 2013

'Dark Oxidants' Form Away from Sunlight in Lake and Ocean Depths, Underground Soils

Breathing oxygen... can be hazardous to your health? Indeed, our bodies aren't perfect. They make mistakes, among them producing toxic chemicals, called oxidants, in cells. We fight these oxidants naturally, and by eating foods rich in antioxidants such as blueberries and dark chocolate. All forms of life that breathe oxygen—even ones that can't be seen with the naked eye, such as bacteria—must fight oxidants to live.

April 29, 2013

WHOI to Host Public Event on Fukushima and the Ocean

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) will host a free, public forum exploring the impact of Fukushima on the ocean and human health on May 9, 2013, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in Redfield Auditorium, 45 Water Street, Woods Hole.

diverse animals
April 22, 2013

Experts Call for Network to Monitor Marine Biodiversity

A group of oceanographic experts is calling for the establishment of a national network to monitor the diversity of marine life, a key bellwether of ocean and human health. Their work is described in the April 11 issue of BioScience.

bushel of clams
April 10, 2013

Research Enables Fishermen to Harvest Lucrative Shellfish on Georges Bank

New scientific understanding of toxic algal blooms on Georges Bank, along with an at-sea and dockside testing protocol, has allowed fishermen to harvest ocean quahogs and surf clams in these offshore waters for the first time in more than two decades. The Georges Bank surf clam and ocean quahog fishery has an estimated annual value of $10 – 15 million.

Ganges river dolphin
April 3, 2013

An Ancient Biosonar Sheds New Light on the Evolution of Echolocation in Toothed Whales

New research, led by WHOI postdoctoral fellow Frants Havmand Jensen, shows that freshwater dolphins produce echolocation sounds at very low sound intensities compared to marine dolphins, and that the endangered Ganges river dolphins echolocate at surprisingly low sound frequencies.

Cameron climbing out of Deepsea Challenger
March 26, 2013

Explorer and Filmmaker James Cameron Gives DEEPSEA CHALLENGER Sub to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

On the one-year anniversary of Explorer and filmmaker James Cameron’s unprecedented solo dive to the Challenger Deep in the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER submersible, Cameron and WHOI announce he will transfer the sub to Woods Hole. The transfer is part of a newly formed a partnership to stimulate advances in ocean science and technology and build on the historic breakthroughs of the 2012  DEEPSEA CHALLENGE expedition.

shellfish closure sign
March 25, 2013

Researchers Issue Forecast for 'Moderate' New England Red Tide in 2013

New England is expected to experience a “moderate” red tide this spring and summer, report NOAA-funded scientists studying the toxic algae that cause blooms in the Gulf of Maine. Red tide is caused by an alga Alexandrium fundyense, which produces a toxin that can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP).  Red tide occurs annually along some portions of the Gulf of Maine coast.  This outlook is similar to the 2012 red tide which was moderate. 

Lyme disease
March 21, 2013

Scientists Reveal Quirky Feature of Lyme Disease Bacteria

Scientists have confirmed that the pathogen that causes Lyme Disease—unlike any other known organism—can exist without iron, a metal that all other life needs to make proteins and enzymes. Instead of iron, the bacteria substitute manganese to make an essential enzyme, thus eluding immune system defenses that protect the body by starving pathogens of iron.


March 10, 2013

Glaciers Contribute Significant Iron to North Atlantic Ocean

A new study by biogeochemists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution identifies a large, unexpected source of iron to the North Atlantic – meltwater from glaciers and ice sheets, which may stimulate plankton growth during spring and summer. This source is likely to increase as melting of the Greenland ice sheet escalates under a warming climate.

March 1, 2013

New Study Reveals How Sensitive U.S. East Coast Regions May Be to Ocean Acidification

A continental-scale chemical survey in the waters of the eastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico is helping researchers determine how distinct bodies of water will resist changes in acidity. The study, which measures varying levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other forms of carbon in the ocean, provides a better picture of acidification status on the east coast of the U.S.

January 17, 2013

Study Provides New Insights on Drought Predictions in East Africa

New research published in the journal Nature helps explain the mechanisms at work behind historical patterns of aridity in Eastern Africa over many decades -- findings that may help improve future predictions of drought and food security in the region.

glider in the water
January 9, 2013

Scientists Use Marine Robots to Detect Endangered Whales

Two robots equipped with instruments designed to “listen” for the calls of baleen whales detected nine endangered North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of Maine last month. The robots reported the detections to shore-based researchers within hours of hearing the whales (i.e., in real time), demonstrating a new and powerful tool for managing interactions between whales and human activities.

January 8, 2013

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Establishes New Center for Marine Robotics

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) announces a new Center for Marine Robotics. The Center brings together academic, national security, and industrial partners with the goal of applying the full potential of computation and intelligence to bear to the ocean.