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WHOI in the News

Scientists pull living microbes, possibly 100 million years old, from beneath the sea

Science Magazine

Microbes buried beneath the sea floor for more than 100 million years are still alive, a new study reveals. When brought back to the lab and fed, they started to multiply. The microbes are oxygen-loving species that somehow exist on what little of the gas diffuses from the ocean surface deep into the seabed. The new work demonstrates “microbial life is very persistent, and often finds a way to survive,” says Virginia Edgcomb, a microbial ecologist at WHOI who was not involved in the work.

Experiments Reveal How Permafrost Carbon Becomes Carbon Dioxide

Eos - Earth and Space Science News

Permafrost has been frozen for far longer than humans have been on the planet. That’s a good thing because permafrost contains over a trillion metric tons of organic carbon deposited by generations of plants, and all that carbon remains locked up when it’s frozen. “But now, because of human activity, it’s starting to thaw,” said Collin P. Ward, an aquatic geochemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Mass. “The big concern here is what’s going to happen to all of that organic carbon.”

Research cruises gingerly resume


U.S. research vessels are taking to the sea again after being docked since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of 256 cruises scheduled from March to December, about half have already been pushed back or canceled. Some long cruises with large crews on in-demand ships have not been rescheduled. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has had to torpedo one such mission, intended to study how carbon sequestered by organisms near the surface sinks hundreds of meters to the mesopelagic region, also known as the twilight zone.

A Story Map for Marie Tharp’s 100th birthday

Story Maps

Data acquired aboard the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) research vessel Atlantis from 1946 – 1953 were shared with Marie as she began to assemble the first detailed map of the Atlantic Ocean.

17 Historical Mysteries People Would Really Like Answers To


In 2002, documentarian Anne MacGregor and Phil Richardson, a physical oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, speculated that the Mary Celeste was abandoned the day after the log’s final entry – November 25, 1872 – perhaps because the ship was taking on water and Briggs had spotted land. Another theory was put forward by Dr. Andrea Sella from University College London in 2006, suggesting an explosion aboard led Briggs to abandon ship.

New president and director for WHOI

Offshore Energy

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has appointed Dr. Peter de Menocal as the eleventh president and director of the Institution. De Menocal is a marine geologist and paleo-oceanographer who studies deep-sea sediments as archives of past climate change.

HMS Challenger: The voyage that birthed oceanography

BBC - Travel

“The measurements of the Challenger expedition set the stage for all branches of oceanography,” explained Dr Jake Gebbie, associate scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

As if Yemen Needed More Woes, a Decrepit Oil Tanker Threatens Disaster


The task at hand is to keep a bad situation from getting worse, said Christopher M. Reddy, a marine scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “We have a problem, it has a potential for harm, so how do we do it to create the least amount of damage?” he said.

In Focus: Woods Hole Film Festival goes virtual

Boston Globe

This year’s Woods Hole Film Festival, the 29th, is the first to be virtual. In going digital because of COVID-19, the WHFF follows such other summer fixtures on the local circuit. The WHFF runs from July 25-Aug. 1.

Scientists Discover A New Material For Cleaning Up Oil Spills


In the middle of a battle like an oil spill, you want to have a very predictable material that is easily deployed and creates no uncertainty, says Chris Reddy, at WHOI. And these natural products carry just a lot more uncertainty. Despite this uncertainty, he says, maybe hair can teach us how to make better materials. And Georgia Tech’s David Hu says the study made him look at hair differently.

USA: Twelve Offshore Wind R&D Projects Selected for Funding

Offshore Engineer

The U.S. National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium (NOWRDC) has selected twelve projects for contract negotiation, completing its first solicitation for offshore wind research and development technology projects.

Scientists are trying to save coral reefs. Here’s what’s working.

National Geographic

Without a mix of long-term cuts in emissions and short-term innovation, there’s a not-so-far-off future where coral reefs as we know them simply cease to exist, says Anne Cohen, a coral expert at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

New report details profitability, growth of marine economy

Cape Cod Times

Blue technology companies have been in Woods Hole and other spots along the Massachusetts coastline for decades, and they have made valuable contributions to the Cape’s economy in terms of both employment and enabling other offshore industries.

WHOI Study: Fishing Restrictions Could Benefit Lobster Fisherman

Researchers at MIT, WHOI and colleagues announced the first successful trials of their new “TRAPS” system, a system they hope will provide faster, more accurate insights into the floating locations of missing objects and people by identifying the watery “traps” into which they’re likely to be attracted.

Where Does The Nitrogen We Breathe Come From?

Eurasia Review

Peter Barry of WHOI, and British and Italian colleagues, took samples of gases in various volcanic sites on Earth, in particular in Eifel (Germany) and Yellowstone (USA).

Mathematics can save lives at sea

In collaboration with a team of MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, a group of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and the U.S. Coast Guard, the ETH team tested their new, TRAP-based search algorithm in two separate ocean experiments near Martha’s Vineyard near the north-eastern coast of the United States.