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News Releases


Submersible ALVIN to Dive in Gulf of Mexico, Investigate Gas Hydrates and Unusual Marine Life

For the first time in eight years, the Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionA?s Research Vessel Atlantis and deep-diving submersible Alvin will spend the next two weeks investigating gas hydrates, a new potential energy resource, and unusual marine life in the Gulf of Mexico. Scientists from a number of universities, government agencies and research laboratories are aboard Atlantis for the expedition, which is scheduled to depart Galveston, Texas, today. The cruise will end in Key West, Florida, on October 31. Fourteen dives are planned during the two-week expedition, including a number of dives in previously unexplored deep waters of the Gulf.

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U.S. Postal Service Issues Deep Sea Creatures Stamps

Alien life in the deep sea will soon be affixed to first class mail across the nation as the U.S. Postal Service issues five 33-cent commemorative stamps of deep-sea creatures this month. Three of the stamps are based on photographs taken by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Biologist Laurence Madin. The stamps go on sale at post offices nationwide tomorrow. A ceremony is planned at the Woods Hole Post Office at 11 a.m. October 3 to mark the occasion.

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Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Director Applauds Clinton Signing of Oceans Act

President Clinton today signed bipartisan legislation establishing a high-level national advisory board to recommend policies to balance ocean ecology and economics by promoting the protection and sustainable use of America?s oceans and coastal resources. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Director Robert Gagosian, a long-time supporter of expanding understanding of how the oceans work and using them wisely, attended the signing ceremony at a U.S. Coast Guard station on Martha?s Vineyard.

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WHOI to Hold Commencement Exercises June 3

For the fourth time in its history, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution will hold commencement ceremonies at the Institution. Thirty-three degrees will be awarded June 3, 2000 to students who completed their degree programs in September 1999 and February and June 2000 as part of the InstitutionA?s Joint Graduate Program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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WHOI Director Receives Honorary Degree from Long Island University

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Director Robert B. Gagosian was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science degree May 21, 2000 in ceremonies at Southampton College of Long Island University in Southampton, NY. The honorary Doctor of Science degree is the DirectorA?s first honorary degree and was one of four presented during the afternoon ceremonies, part of the 34th commencement of Southampton College.

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Gas found off Mid-Atlantic Coast

Woods Hole, MA – A team of scientists investigating whether possible cracks along the outer continental shelf off the mid-Atlantic coast might lead to a tsunami-causing landslide has discovered that the entire area is charged with gas.

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Scientists Find Active Underwater Volcano East of Samoa

Marine geologists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) have confirmed the existence of an active underwater volcano east of Samoa. The volcano, recently named VailuluA?u by local students, is located about 28 miles east of TaA?u Island and rises more than 16,400 feet from the seafloor to within 2,000 feet of the ocean surface. The scientists found billowing “smoggy” water in the summit and extending out for more than five miles.

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Major Gift Moves New Regional Coastal Research Vessel Close to Reality

Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionA?s planned coastal research vessel is much closer to reality with the announcement of a $5 million gift from long-time friend, Trustee and supporter Gratia Rinehart A?TopsyA? Montgomery of South Dartmouth, MA. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Director Robert B. Gagosian said the funds will enable the Institution to proceed with plans to build a 105-foot SWATH research vessel that will serve scientists and students at research laboratories, colleges and universities throughout New England.

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Undersea Cracks along Continental Shelf Could Trigger Tsunamis along U.S. East Coast

Potential landslides on the outer continental shelf and slope along the Mid-Atlantic coast could trigger tsunamis that might have devastating effects on populated coastal areas. In a paper published in the May 2000 issue of the journal Geology,Neal Driscoll of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and colleagues Jeffrey Weissel of Columbia University??A?s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and John Goff of the University of Texas at Austin say newly discovered cracks along the edge of the continental shelf could be an early warning sign that the seafloor is unstable in these areas.

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California Oceanographer to Receive WHOI’s Stommel Medal

Dr. Russ E. Davis of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego will receive the Henry Stommel Medal in Oceanography from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in recognition of his contributions to observing and understanding ocean processes. The Stommel award, a gold medal and monetary prize, will be presented at an award lecture and ceremony in June in Woods Hole.

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High Levels of Platinum and Palladium Found in Boston Harbor Sediments

The first systematic study of the influence of human activity on platinum and palladium concentrations in an urban coastal system show high levels of these metals. Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and their colleagues found platinum and palladium concentrations in recent surface sediments in Boston Harbor up to five times local pre-industrial sediment concentrations. While the levels do not exceed those found in environments where metals naturally concentrate, such as manganese nodules in the deep sea, the levels are significantly higher than those found in pre-industrial Massachusetts Bay sediment. The researchers say the most likely source of these enrichments is the use of automobile catalytic converters, as well as some waste from the chemical, jewelry, electrical, medical and dental industries entering the Harbor through the sewage system.

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New Iron-Eating Microbe Major Component of Mining Pollution and Iron and Sulfur Cycling

A new microbe that eats iron and lives in some of the most acidic conditions found on earth has been identified as a major player in the environmental damage caused by metal ore mining. It also raises questions about the ability of microbes to survive in extremely toxic environments on earth or on other planets, and what role these organisms play in the cycling of iron and sulfur in the environment.

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New Generation Deep Ocean Vehicle Funded by $1 Million Keck Foundation Grant

A new generation remotely operated vehicle (ROV) capable of routine operation to depths of 6,500 meters (21,320 feet) and communicating its data back to shore via the Internet is under development at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), funded by a $1 million grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation of Los Angeles, CA.

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WHOI Scientists to Discuss Fisheries Science Issues

WHAT: Scientists will briefly outline the fisheries problem, and some of the outstanding scientific issues that need to be addressed to manage the recovery of stocks, and once recovered, to manage them in a sustainable way. Also discussed will be some important findings so far from current research programs about major oceanographic and environmental factors affecting our nationA?s fisheries, and the possible impacts of those factors on fisheries management. The briefing will close with a description of new efforts between scientists and fishermen to work together to better understand the nature of fisheries and to provide real-time data for models and management tools. A productive question and answer period is anticipated.

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Oceanographer Takes Cable Industry on Journey into the World’s Oceans

(Washington, DC) Robert B. Gagosian, Director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), told the Washington Metropolitan Cable Club today that new technologies are completely changing the way oceanographers do ocean science, and that many problems facing society today can be solved if policymakers and others use this knowledge and technology wisely.

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The United States Navy Names New Ship for Long-time WHOI Scientist

The U.S. Navy’s newest oceanographic survey vessel has been named the USNS MARY SEARS in honor of the long-time Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientist and pioneer in oceanography. Mary Sears (1905-1997) was a guiding force in the development of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and a major force in uniting the world oceanographic community while serving both her community and her country.

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WHOI Names New Director of Development

A 1975 graduate of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution/Massachusetts Institute of Technology Joint Program in Oceanography will be returning to Woods Hole soon in a new capacity. Dr. Daniel H. Stuermer, a chemical oceanographer who has spent much of his career as a research scientist and in corporate management, will assume the duties of WHOI Director of Development October 1.

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Nation’s First Deep-Sea Research Submersible Keeps Going and Going…

The nationA?s first human-occupied deep-sea research submersible, the three-person Alvin, turns 35 on June 5, but the tiny sub keeps on going and going. Making between 175 and 200 dives each year to depths up to 4,500 meters (14,764 feet), the sub set yet another record when it passed Dive #3,400 in late May. Alvin and its support vessel, the 274-foot Research Vessel Atlantis, are at work in the eastern Pacific and will spend the summer diving to the ocean floor off the coast of Washington and Oregon. The ship and sub, part of the U.S. National Deep Submergence Facility operated by WHOI, left their home port at Woods Hole, MA, June 2, 1997 and are not scheduled to return to Woods Hole until October 2000.

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Deputy Prime Minister of England to Visit WHOI April 23 to Discuss Deep-Sea Research, International Collaboration

John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions, will visit Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) April 23 to discuss potential collaboration and to learn more about deep sea research. His visit will follow meetings earlier in the week with Vice President Al Gore and leaders of Congress in Washington, DC, and an Earth Day lecture on sustainable development at the United Nations in New York City.

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Giant Sulfur Bacteria Discovered off African Coast

The largest bacterium ever found, a harmless organism that grows as a string of white beads large enough to be visible to the naked eye, has been found in coastal sediments off the coast of Namibia by an international research team. In an article in today’s issue of the journal Science, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Germany, the University of Barcelona in Spain, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts suggest the new genus and species be named Thiomargarita namibiensis(“sulphur pearl of Namibia”).

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