Coastal Ecosystems


Coastal Ecosystems

The narrow region where land and ocean meet is among the most dynamic and complex collection of physical and biological…

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Marshes, Mosquitoes, and Sea Level Rise

Marshes, Mosquitoes, and Sea Level Rise

In the 1930s, the Cape Cod Mosquito Control Project dug approximately 1,500 miles of ditches across marshes on the Cape to drain their water and reduce the number of ponds where mosquitoes can breed. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution biogeochemist Amanda Spivak is studying how this and other management decisions have changed the ability of coastal marshes to store carbon and protect against sea level rise.

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The Unseen World on Coral Reefs

The Unseen World on Coral Reefs

We have learned that microbial communities on and within us—a microbiome—keep people healthy. Corals reefs also have their own microbiomes that they couldn’t function without.

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The Recipe for a Harmful Algal Bloom

The Recipe for a Harmful Algal Bloom

Harmful algal blooms can produce toxins that accumulate in shellfish and cause health problems and economic losses. They have increased in strength and frequency worldwide. Can we get advance warnings of when and where they will occur?

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Life at the Edge

What makes the shelf break front such a productive and diverse part of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean? A group of scientists on the research vessel Neil Armstrong spent two weeks at sea in 2018 as part of a three-year, NSF-funded project to find out.

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Sunlight Reduces Effectiveness of Dispersants Used in Oil Spills

Sunlight Reduces Effectiveness of Dispersants Used in Oil Spills

A research team led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found that sunlight chemically alters crude oil floating on the sea surface within hours or days. In a follow-up study the team reported that sunlight changes oil into different compounds that dispersants cannot easily break up. The results of these two studies could affect how responders decide when, where, and how to use dispersants.

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Who Grows There?

Who Grows There?

Biofouling organisms—barnacles, tunicates, bryozoans, and other marine invertebrates—are a common sight on docks, ship hulls, rocks, and other hard underwater surfaces. WHOI postdoctoral scholar Kirstin Meyer has been studying the fouling community in coastal waters of Woods Hole, Mass., to assess how it develops and changes over time. Her preliminary results suggest that both water temperature and competition play a key role in driving community composition.

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A Double Whammy for Corals

A Double Whammy for Corals

Scientists know that gradually rising ocean temperatures can push corals past a threshold and cause them to bleach. But combine…

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Long-term Study Focuses on New England Ocean

Long-term Study Focuses on New England Ocean

The National Science Foundation has created a new Long Term Ecological Research site off the New England coast to increase understanding of an area of the ocean known for its abundant marine life and productive commercial fisheries.

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Tiny Jellyfish with a Big Sting

Tiny Jellyfish with a Big Sting

Clinging jellyfish in waters near Vladivostok, Russia, are known for their painful, toxic stings. In the U.S., where clinging jellies had been relatively harmless, a new, venomous variety has recently appeared on Cape Cod, Mass., and in nearby regions. WHOI biologist Annette Govindarajan is using genetic techniques to trace their geographic origins.

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In the Gardens of the Queen

In the Gardens of the Queen

An unprecedented research cruise investigated one of the most beautiful and unexplored coral reefs in the Caribbean and fostered collaboration between U.S. and Cuban scientists.

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Scientist-Fisherman Partnership

Scientist-Fisherman Partnership

WHOI physical oceanographer Glen Gawarkiewicz is enlisting the help of local fishermen to find out how climate change is affecting water conditions along the southern New England coast.

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Eavesdropping on Whales

Eavesdropping on Whales

WHOI scientist Mark Baumgartner has installed a mooring in New York waters that listens for whales and sends back alerts. The prototype advance-warning system could one day help reduce shipping collisions with whales.

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A Big Decline of River Herring

A Big Decline of River Herring

River herring used to run up coastal streams in great numbers in springtime, returning from the ocean to spawn in fresh water. But their populations have plummeted. WHOI biologist Joel Llopiz is investigating critical gaps in understanding river herring’s larval stage just after they hatch.

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Radioactivity Under the Beach?

Radioactivity Under the Beach?

Scientists have found a previously unsuspected place where radioactive material from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster has accumulated—in sands and brackish groundwater beneath beaches up to 60 miles away.

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Eavesdropping on Shrimp’s Snap Chat

Eavesdropping on Shrimp's Snap Chat

At Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, marine ecologist Ashlee Lillis is studying a tiny animal that makes one of the ocean’s loudest natural sounds. It’s called a snapping shrimp. The noise it makes dominates the underwater soundscape in many coastal regions and may have an outsized effect on other marine life.

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