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News Releases


Harmful Algal Bloom (Red Tide) Models and Forecasts to be Expanded in Gulf of Maine

A new observation and modeling program focused on the southern Gulf of Maine and adjacent New England shelf waters could aid policymakers in deciding whether or not to re-open, develop, and manage offshore shellfish beds with potential sustained harvesting value of more than $50 million per year. These areas are presently closed to the harvest…

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Antique Whale Oil Provides Insights to Origin of Pre-Industrial Chemicals

One of the last remaining New England whaling ships has provided unexpected insights into the origin of halogenated organic compounds (HOCs) that have similar chemical and physical properties as toxic PCBs and the pesticide DDT.  HOCs are found everywhere and degrade slowly, but some are naturally produced and others are produced by humans. While large…

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Rapid Sea Level Rise in the Arctic Ocean May Alter Views of Human Migration

Scientists have found new evidence that the Bering Strait near Alaska flooded into the Arctic Ocean about 11,000 years ago, about 1,000 years earlier than widely believed, closing off the land bridge thought to be the major route for human migration from Asia to the Americas. Knowledge of climate change and sea level rise in…

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Digital Tags Provide Evidence that Narwhals May Produce Signature Vocalizations for Communication

Scientists have found preliminary evidence that narwhals, Arctic whales whose spiraled tusks gave rise to the myth of the unicorn, produce signature vocalizations that may facilitate individual recognition or their reunion with more distant group members. Ari Shapiro, a graduate student in the Biology Department at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), and colleagues recorded…

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Propane-producing Bacteria Found on the Seafloor

Scientists from the University of Bremen in Germany and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and have found microorganisms in buried sediment on the ocean floor producing abundant supplies of the gases propane and ethane. In a report published online this month in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the international team of scientists reported…

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ABE Joins Alvin and Jason at Sea

The Autonomous Benthic Explorer, ABE, one of the first autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to routinely work in the deep ocean, has joined the U.S. National Deep Submergence Facility, providing ocean scientists with a full range of tools to explore the deep sea. American scientists now have a human occupied vehicle (HOV), the three-person Alvin capable…

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Tracking Killer Whales with Technology

WHOI researchers will use a small, non-invasive piece of technology, the digital archival tag or D-tag, in November to tag free-ranging killer whales in northern Norway. The researchers will record the sounds and movements of these animals as part of a study to understand the relationship between their vocalizations and highly coordinated group foraging behavior.…

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Gliders Are Changing the Way Ocean Observations are Made

A fleet of gliders from WHOI’s Autonomous Systems Laboratory is quietly monitoring the ocean near Monterery Bay, California as part of a month-long experiment to learn more about ocean conditions that support rich fisheries and abundant marine life. But a longer term goal of the series of experiments taking place from mid-July through mid-September involving…

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Island Ferries Take on Role of Research Vessels Collecting Data about Nantucket Sound

Ferries that connect Cape Cod and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are taking on another role – research vessels. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) biologist Scott Gallager and colleagues have installed a package of sensors on the 235-foot freight ferry Katama to measure water quality and to photograph plankton as the ferry crisscrosses…

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Natural Petroleum Seeps Offer Clues to the Past and the Future

Just a half mile off California’s coast near Santa Barbara, and in coastal areas around the world, natural petroleum seeps are releasing an astonishing amount of methane gas and oil into the environment each year—much more than accidental oil spills and runoff from roads on a worldwide basis. At the Santa Barbara seeps, about 5,000…

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A First Responder on the Ocean Floor

The Towed Digital Camera and Multi-Rock Coring System, or TowCam, was developed by scientists and engineers at WHOI to meet the U.S. oceanographic community’s need for an imaging and sampling system with both routine and rapid-response capabilities.  TowCam was recenly deployed in the Eastern Pacific Ocean to confirm that new lava flows had erupted on…

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Undersea Vehicles to Study Formation of Gold and Other Precious Metals On the Pacific Ocean Floor

An international team of scientists will explore the seafloor near Papua New Guinea in the western Pacific Ocean later this month with remotely operated and autonomous underwater vehicles, investigating active and inactive hydrothermal vents and the formation of mineral deposits containing copper, gold and other commercially valuable minerals. The cruise is a joint expedition between…

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Woods Hole Engineering Team from Titanic Discovery to be Honored

the hull o fthe Titanic

The underwater research vehicle Jason Jr., which gained international attention for its exploration inside the wreck of the R.M.S. Titanic in July 1986, and its engineering team from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) will be honored July 14 with the 2006 GlobalSpec Great Moments in Engineering award. The honor comes on the 20th anniversary of…

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Study Looks at Ways to Sustain Lobster Fishery

In the world of the lobster fishery, less may indeed be more. A new study may give hope to lobstermen struggling with declining lobster stocks, suggesting new ways that might improve the sustainability of the New England lobster fishery and reduce the risk of entangling whales and other marine life in lobster trap gear. Research…

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Silent Stingers

Summer brings millions to the beach, and among the creatures often found in coastal waters are jellyfish. One of the most beautiful but potentially dangerous is Physalia physalis, commonly known as the Portuguese man-of-war, or bluebottle in the southern hemisphere. Normally found in warm waters worldwide, the creature has been found as far north this…

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Caribbean Corals and Climate Change

Climate scientists are finding interesting clues to ancient climates in the corals of Honduras.  During a trip earlier this month, they drilled cores from Montastrea (star corals) and Diploria (brain corals), several as long as 1.6 meters (more than five feet) and possibly 200-250 years old.  Back in the lab in Woods Hole,  the researchers…

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Arctic Adventure: Following Bowhead Whales

WHOI scientists will be working on the continental shelf near Barrow, Alaska from mid-August to mid-September, trying to determine the oceanographic conditions that make this region a favorable feeding environment for bowhead whales during their annual migration from the Canadian Arctic south to the northern Bering Sea.  The recurrence of bowhead whales near Barrow and…

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A New Era in Observing the Ocean

Marine scientists have their fingers crossed that a long-planned Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) will make it through the federal budget process this summer and fall and become a reality. OOI, supported by the National Science Foundation, will enable the ocean sciences research community to work together to create a permanent presence in the ocean via…

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Archaeology in the Aegean

An international team of scientists and engineers embarked on the Greek research vessel Aegaeo June 25 for a ten-day survey in local waters.  Project PHAEDRA, for Partnership for Hellenic-American Exploration in the Deep Regions of the Aegean, will pursue three areas of inquiry: archaeology in deep water, deep submergence technology development, and oceanographic science. Using…

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Hurricane Historians

With another hurricane season in full swing and a prediction for a high number of major storms, WHOI geologists are seeking clues from past hurricanes to learn more about the future.  Intense hurricanes, those category 3 or higher, are relatively rare in New England, striking generally one or twice a century because the cooler sea…

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A Whale Trail

Three marine research laboratories in Woods Hole have teamed up to sponsor a six-foot right whale sculpture,  one of more than 50 whale sculptures that are part of this summer’s Whale Trail, a free public art event on Cape Cod and the Islands. The Whale Trail will raise money for non-profit organizations while showcasing local…

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Underwater Microscope Finds Biological Treasures in the Subtropical Ocean

Scientists towing an underwater digital microscope across the Atlantic have found possible missing links to the global nitrogen cycle, which in turn is linked to ocean productivity. In a recent report in the journal Science, researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found abundant colonies of Trichodesmium. The multi-celled, filamentous organism is thought to…

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WHOI Director Steps Down After 12 Years

Robert B. Gagosian announced today that he would step down as president and director of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), a position he has held since 1994. Citing interests to advocate for the importance of ocean science at the national and international levels, and fulfillment of a seven-year strategic plan for the institution, Gagosian noted…

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