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WHOI in the News


Sunlight Exposure for 100 Hours or Less Melts Plastics, Breaks Them Down Into Smaller Soup of New Chemicals

The Science Times

Microplastics are considered a major environmental hazard that is produced from the disintegration of plastics. Sadly, many of them end up in oceans and pollute or contaminate the waters and marine life. Now, a new study shows that long sunlight exposure could break down plastics and transform them into a soup of new chemicals and eliminate the hazards of microplastics.

A Recent Reversal Discovered in the Response of Greenland’s Ice Caps to Climate Change

SciTech Daily

New collaborative research from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and five partner institutions (University of Arizona, University of Washington, Pennsylvania State University, Desert Research Institute and University of Bergen), published on September 9, 2021, in Nature Geoscience, reveals that during past periods glaciers and ice caps in coastal west Greenland experienced climate conditions much different than the interior of Greenland.

The Right Tools for Right Whales

eco Magazine

Lonati’s methodology involves looking for whales, then hovering the university’s dual-gimbal DJI Matrice 210 V2 drone over a whale when it surfaces, capturing high-resolution images using an RGB camera at 20m above the ocean surface, then descending to 10m to capture a reading of the whale’s internal body temperature via its blowhole using an infrared camera. It is worth noting that drones have been deployed by researchers before to gather information about whales.

‘No easy answers’ WHOI building project designed for sea-level rise

Cape Cod Times

“This is critical infrastructure to what we do,” said Rob Munier, WHOI vice president for marine facilities and operations. “Others can contemplate alternatives, including retreat (from the waterfront), but we have to be there. It’s part of our ability to do our mission.”

‘Rolls-Royce’ of shark cameras can extend to turtles, whales, seals and squid for ocean’s big picture

Boston Herald

A high-tech SharkCam invented by a Cape Cod researcher offers an unprecedented window into the lives of the ocean’s toothy predators, and can also extend to seals, whales, turtles and squid for a big-picture view of precious ecosystems and how to protect them. “These vehicles, these underwater robots that look like highly complex systems are just an extension of yourself to be able go where people can’t go, and there’s no limitation to what they can do,” said Amy Kukulya, research engineer and principal investigator at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Melting ice imperils 98% of Emperor penguin colonies by 2100

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — With climate change threatening the sea ice habitat of Emperor penguins, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday announced a proposal to list the species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. “The lifecycle of Emperor penguins is tied to having stable sea ice, which they need to breed, to feed and to molt,” said Stephanie Jenouvrier, a penguin ecologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

What Happens to Marine Life When There Isn’t Enough Oxygen?

SciTech Daily

In September of 2017, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution postdoctoral scholar Maggie Johnson was conducting an experiment with a colleague in Bocas del Toro off the Caribbean coast of Panama. After sitting on a quiet, warm open ocean, they snorkeled down to find a peculiar layer of murky, foul-smelling water about 10 feet below the surface, with brittle stars and sea urchins, which are usually in hiding, perching on the tops of coral. This unique observation prompted a collaborative study explained in a new paper published on July 26, 2021, in Nature Communications analyzing what this foggy water layer is caused by, and the impact it has on life at the bottom of the seafloor.

Impact of Hypoxic Ocean Waters on Marine Life

Technology Networks

Investigators suggest that loss of oxygen in the global ocean is accelerating due to climate change and excess nutrients, but how sudden deoxygenation events affect tropical marine ecosystems is poorly understood.

Sharks and the ocean’s twilight zone: Some female great white sharks can deep dive for hours

Boston Herald

Much of the shark focus around the Cape is on great whites roaming close to the shoreline as they prowl for seals, but researchers are finding out that several sharks are actually diving deep into the twilight zone out in the middle of the ocean. Scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod are researching the sharks’ deep diving behavior and how sharks’ bodies have evolved to handle these deeper conditions. They’re learning that deep diving is far more frequent and extensive across species than previously thought, said Simon Thorrold, a senior scientist in the biology department at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

New Ocean Buoy Monitors Whales Off MD.’s Atlantic Coast

Chesapeake Bay Magazine

The buoy is equipped with a hydrophone to record marine mammal calls, and thanks to an algorithm, researchers will be able to determine whether they belong to a humpback, fin, sei, or a critically-endangered North Atlantic Right whale.