News Releases


Groups of Pilot Whales Have Their Own Dialects

Groups of Pilot Whales Have Their Own Dialects

In humans, different social groups, cities, or regions often have distinct accents and dialects. Those vocal traits are not unique to us, however. A new study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has found that short-finned pilot whales living off the coast of Hawai’i have their own sorts of vocal dialects, a discovery that may help researchers understand the whales’ complex social structure.

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Coral Larvae Use Sound to Find a Home on the Reef

Coral Larvae Use Sound to Find a Home on the Reef

Choosing a place to call home is one of the most consequential choices a coral can make. In the animal’s larval stage, it floats freely in the ocean, but once it settles down, it anchors itself permanently to the rocky substrate of a reef, and remains stuck there for the rest of its life. Exactly how these larvae choose a specific place to live, however, is largely unclear.

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Greenland Ice Sheet Melt ‘Off the Charts’ Compared With Past Four Centuries

Greenland Ice Sheet Melt 'Off the Charts' Compared With Past Four Centuries

Surface melting across Greenland’s mile-thick ice sheet began increasing in the mid-19th century and then ramped up dramatically during the 20th and early 21st centuries, showing no signs of abating, according to new research published Dec. 5, 2018, in the journal Nature. The study provides new evidence of the impacts of climate change on Arctic melting and global sea level rise.

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Flounder Now Tumor-free in Boston Harbor

Flounder Now Tumor-free in Boston Harbor

In the late 1980s, more than three-quarters of the winter flounder caught in Boston Harbor – ”one of the most polluted harbors in America – ”showed signs of liver disease, many of them with cancerous tumors. But now, a scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has documented a dramatic rebound in flounder health spurred by decades of remediation efforts, including a $3.8 billion project to construct a sewage treatment plant and a 9.5-mile discharge tunnel with a 6,600-foot-long outfall diffuser. The findings appear in the Nov. 20, 2018 issue of the journal Diseases of Aquatic Organisms.

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Alvin Submersible Makes 5,000th Dive

Alvin Submersible Makes 5,000th Dive

Alvin, the country’s only deep-diving research submersible capable of carrying humans to the sea floor, reached another milestone in its long career on Nov. 26, 2018, when the sub made its 5,000th dive during an expedition to the Guaymas Basin in the Gulf of California.

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Climate Change Likely Caused Migration, Demise of Ancient Indus Valley Civilization

Climate Change Likely Caused Migration, Demise of Ancient Indus Valley Civilization

More than 4,000 years ago, the Harappa culture thrived in the Indus River Valley of what is now modern Pakistan and northwestern India, where they built sophisticated cities, invented sewage systems that predated ancient Rome’™s, and engaged in long-distance trade with settlements in Mesopotamia. Yet by 1800 BCE, this advanced culture had abandoned their cities, moving instead to smaller villages in the Himalayan foothills. A new study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found evidence that climate change likely drove the Harappans to resettle far away from the floodplains of the Indus.

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Study Tracks Severe Bleaching Events on a Pacific Coral Reef Over Past Century

Study Tracks Severe Bleaching Events on a Pacific Coral Reef Over Past Century

As climate change causes ocean temperatures to rise, coral reefs worldwide are experiencing mass bleaching events and die-offs. For many, this is their first encounter with extreme heat. However for some reefs in the central Pacific, heatwaves caused by El Nino are a way of life. Exactly how these reefs deal with repeated episodes of extreme heat has been unclear. A new study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), has uncovered the history of bleaching on a reef in the epicenter of El Nino, revealing how some corals have been able to return after facing extreme conditions. The study was published October 26, 2018, in the journal Communications Biology.

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Sea Grant Funds New Technology to Monitor for Harmful Algal Blooms

Sea Grant Funds New Technology to Monitor for Harmful Algal Blooms

A new system using next generation robotic sensors to monitor coastal waters for disease-causing microalgae has been funded by the NOAA Sea Grant Program as part of a national strategic investment in aquaculture.

The PhytO-ARM (Phytoplankton Observing for Automated Real-time Management), under development by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) biologist Mike Brosnahan, will vastly improve our ability to detect harmful algal blooms (HABs) and the toxins they produce and provide aquaculturists, resource managers, and others detailed, real-time information about the bloom using a web-based, user-friendly dashboard.

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Study Links Natural Climate Oscillations in North Atlantic to Greenland Ice Sheet Melt

Study Links Natural Climate Oscillations in North Atlantic to Greenland Ice Sheet Melt

Scientists have known for years that warming global climate is melting the Greenland Ice Sheet, the second largest ice sheet in the world. A new study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), however, shows that the rate of melting might be temporarily increased or decreased by two existing climate patterns: the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).

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Study Finds Link Between River Outflow and Coastal Sea Level

Study Finds Link Between River Outflow and Coastal Sea Level

Sea levels in coastal areas can be affected by a number of factors: tides, winds, waves, and even barometric pressure all play a role in the ebb and flow of the ocean. For the first time, however, a new study led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has shown that river outflow could play a role in sea level change as well.

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Following the Fresh Water

Following the Fresh Water

A research team led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found the fingerprint of a massive flood of fresh water in the western Arctic, thought to be the cause of an ancient cold snap that began around 13,000 years ago.

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Hearing Tests on Wild Whales

Hearing Tests on Wild Whales

Scientists published the first hearing tests on a wild population of healthy marine mammals. The tests on beluga whales in Bristol Bay, AK, revealed that the whales have sensitive auditory systems and showed less age-related hearing loss than is expected.

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Geologic History of Ayeyawady River Delta Mapped for the First Time

Geologic History of Ayeyawady River Delta Mapped for the First Time

The Ayeyawady River delta in Myanmar is home to millions of people, and is a hub of agricultural activity. Unlike other large rivers across the world, however, the Ayeyawady has been relatively untouched by large infrastructure and dam projects for the past 50 years, and its geologic evolution has never previously been studied.

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Fueling a Deep-Sea Ecosystem

Fueling a Deep-Sea Ecosystem

Miles beneath the ocean surface in the dark abyss, vast communities of subseafloor microbes at deep-sea hot springs are converting chemicals into energy that allows deep-sea life to survive, and even thrive, in a world without sunlight. Until now, however, measuring the productivity of subseafloor microbe communities (or how fast they oxidize chemicals and the amount of carbon they produce) has been nearly impossible.

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New Details on Discovery of San Jose Shipwreck

New Details on Discovery of San Jose Shipwreck

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) recently obtained authorization by Maritime Archaeology Consultants, Switzerland AG (MAC), and the Colombian government to release new details from the successful search for the three-century old San José 62-gun, three-masted Spanish galleon ship that sank with a cargo believed to be worth billions of dollars. The ship, which is often called the ‘œholy grail of shipwrecks,’ went down with a treasure of gold, silver, and emeralds in 1708 during a battle with British ships in the War of Spanish Succession.

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