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Coastal Ecosystems


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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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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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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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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Recipes for Antibiotic Resistance

Recipes for Antibiotic Resistance

MIT-WHOI graduate student Megan May is investigating how microbes naturally develop resistance to antibiotic compounds in the marine environment and how human activities, including overuse of drugs and pollution, may be affecting the dynamic.

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From Lab to Sea

From Lab to Sea

Scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution share their field-tested experience, training graduate students on methods and instruments to collect data in the coastal ocean.

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Mysterious Jellyfish Makes a Comeback

Mysterious Jellyfish Makes a Comeback

In July 2013, Mary Carman, a researcher at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, was diving in Farm Pond on Martha’s Vineyard when something that felt like hypodermic needles stung her face.

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