2009 Talks

All talks are held on Tuesdays at 2:30 at the WHOI Ocean Science Exhibit Center Auditorium, 15 School Street, Woods Hole.
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July 7 - New Deep Sea Robot Reaches the Ocean Depths

Andy Bowen, Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering Department

Learn about a new type of deep-sea robotic vehicle called Nereus, a unique hybrid vehicle designed to explore the ocean’s last frontiers, and hear about its recent successful dive to the deepest part of the world’s ocean—the Mariana Trench. To reach the trench, Nereus dove nearly twice as deep as research submarines are capable of and had to withstand pressures 1,000 times that of Earth’s surface— crushing forces similar to those on the surface of Venus.

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July 14 - Recycled Clam Shells Help Seed a New Oyster Crop

Diane Murphy, Woods Hole Sea Grant

Oysters are not only an important fishery resource, they’re also an important part of the ecosystem, providing habitat and filtering the water column. In an effort to restore oyster populations around the region, researchers work closely with municipal shellfish officers within the shellfish aquaculture industry using a technique called remote-setting that utilizes recycled clam and oyster shells. Learn more about this restoration and marine life enhancement project.

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July 21 - The Hearing and Travels of Icelandic White-Beaked Dolphins

T. Aran Mooney, Biology Department

Atlantic white-beaked dolphins are the most common dolphin species around Iceland and are frequently seen riding the bow wave of vessels in the summer. These dolphins are acoustically active, producing both whistles and clicks with sound energy as high as 305 kHz, much above the typical upper hearing frequency limit for toothed whales. Learn how scientists use tags to track dolphin behavior in their natural habitat to assess what these dolphins hear and how that relates to their role in the environment.

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July 28 - Planet Puddle: Surprising Complexity in a Simple Climate

Rebecca Walsh Dell, Physical Oceanography Department

Why is it so hard to predict the climate? Anyone who has ever been surprised by the weather knows that it can be very complicated, but it turns out that even very simple climate systems can have complex and surprising behavior. We’ll discuss how a hypothetical planet with no land and no weather can have huge changes in its climate because of ice on the sea. Come and learn about ideas that have big implications for our understanding of climate change and climate prediction.

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August 4 - Microbial Trojan Horses: Refuge and ?training grounds? for emerging infectious disease

Matt First, Geology & Geophysics Department

Aquatic environments pose challenges for disease-causing bacteria that are adapted to live in humans and other animals. One of those is being eaten by protists, single-celled organisms that are the most important consumers of bacteria: An individual ciliate, for example, can eat hundreds of bacteria per hour. However, some bacteria are capable of living within protists. Learn about the ecology of “microbial Trojan Horses,” from the outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease to our current understanding.

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August 11 - A Look at the Lives of Larvae

Christine Mingione, Biology Department

Many familiar marine invertebrates such as shellfish have lesser known larval stages that are important for the populations’ survival and dispersal. These larval stages can sometimes look very different from the adults because they have different feeding and swimming behaviors. Learn about the traditional and state-of-the-art methods used to study shellfish larvae in the field, as well as research on larvae that has implications for future populations of shellfish on Cape Cod.

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August 18 - Studying deep-diving beaked whales with Digital Recording Tags (DTAGs)

Alex Bocconcelli, Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering Department

Very little is known about beaked whales because they spend most of their lives under water at great depths. The Digital Recording Tag developed at WHOI by scientists and engineers, has revealed some of the secrets of these elusive whales. An amazing discovery is that they can dive to 6,230 feet, the current depth record for any marine mammal! Learn how data collected during several research cruises in the Ligurian Sea, Canary Islands, Bahamas, and Alboran Sea have provided insights into their mysterious lives.

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August 25 - The Discovery of Extinct Asphalt Volcanoes on Southern California Margin

Chris Reddy, Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry

The ocean floor has many interesting features, and on a recent cruise, Reddy and colleagues discovered house-sized mounds of asphalt off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. This region is well known for natural oil seeps that release oil via pebble-sized droplets. But the formation of this asphalt volcano points to a massive eruption of oil. Learn how researchers discovered the undersea volcanoes and what they have learned about them.