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Ocean Life


Shrimp May Make Ocean Louder in Warming Climate

The Weather Channel

Small snapping shrimp make big noises and scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution say the tiny crustaceans could make the ocean louder as it warms. Here’s why.

Plastics’ impact on oceans under scrutiny

Cape Cod Times

“We have an opportunity now, where there is public awareness,” said Mark Hahn, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “They (plastics) don’t belong there (in the ocean).”

Inspired to Understand – Amy Apprill

Amy Apprill  was a midwestern citizen before the call of the ocean found her. Now a resident expert in microbial ecology in WHOI’s Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry Department, she’s studying a growing epidemic affecting coral reefs across the world, known as stony coral tissue loss disease. With an eye for detail, Apprill’s forensic approach analyzes coral sickness down to differences in DNA.

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ROV Jason captures underwater video during earthquake

In January and February 2020, scientists on R/V Atlantis explored hydrothermal vents on the Cayman Rise. They used the remotely operated vehicle Jason to get an up-close view of the vents and life around them. The vents lie on a seismically active part of the seafloor known as a mid-ocean ridge. Deep-sea shrimp swarm the vents, feeding on microbes that live on chemicals flowing from the vents. While they were there, a magnitude 4.7 earthquake struck just 100 miles away. Scientists will now be able to study how seismic activity affects hydrothermal vents and the life around them.

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Oases in Sea Ice Are Essential to Life in Antarctica

This video explains the key physical, biological and ecological processes in oases on the Antarctic icy coast — polynyas. Researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the University of Delaware are trying to unveil crucial connections among the physical and biological components in the polynyas and to understand how the Antarctic ecosystem responds to changes in the large-scale environment.

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Report reveals ‘unseen’ human benefits from ocean twilight zone

A new report from researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) reveals for the first time the unseen—and somewhat surprising—benefits that people receive from the ocean’s twilight zone. Also known as the “mesopelagic,” this is the ocean layer just beyond the sunlit surface.

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Value Beyond View: The Ocean Twilight Zone

How does the ocean twilight zone benefit life on Earth? The ocean twilight zone helps regulates our climate. Storing two to six billion tons of carbon annually. That’s up to six times the amount of carbon emitted from autos worldwide. Preventing an increase in temperature between 6-11°F. The ocean twilight zone supports a healthy ocean ecosystem. Containing 10 times more fish than the rest of the ocean. Providing food for many other animals in the ocean. The ocean twilight zone could also play an important role in feeding a growing population. We are working to better understand this realm in order to inform sustainable management decisions.

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Open Ocean Diving Observations

Watch and learn how blue and black water diving is conducted in the open ocean and what these divers see during the day and during the twilight zone migration at night.

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Tagging and Tracking Wild Squid

Squid are ecologically important marine animals that play a key role in many ocean ecosystems and fisheries. Measuring squid movements, energetics, and habitat use in their natural environment provides important insight into their ecology. However, because the inherent challenges of monitoring these soft-bodied, open-ocean-dwelling organisms, fine-scale observations of their behavior are rare. Bio-logging tags are an increasingly useful way to remotely study squid behavior in their natural environments.

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2019 Year in Review

Enjoy this montage of video captured throughout 2019 documenting how WHOI researchers explore the ocean planet to tackle the most pressing questions about our water world and find solutions to benefit society.

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March of the Penguins

Emperor penguins are some of the most striking and charismatic animals on Earth, but a new study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has found that a warming climate may render them extinct by the end of this century. The study, which was part of an international collaboration between scientists, published Nov. 7, 2019, in the journal Global Change Biology.

The fate of the penguins is largely tied to the fate of sea ice, which the animals use as a home base for breeding, feeding and molting, she notes. Emperor penguins tend to build their colonies on ice with extremely specific conditions—it must be locked into the shoreline of the Antarctic continent, but close enough to open seawater to give the birds access to food for themselves and their young. As climate warms, however, that sea ice will gradually disappear, robbing the birds of their habitat, food sources, and ability to raise their chicks.

Jenouvrier and her team conducted the study by combining two existing computer models. The first, a global climate model created by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), offered projections of where and when sea ice would form under different climate scenarios. The second, a model of the penguin population itself, calculated how colonies might react to changes in that ice habitat.

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Whale Blow Microbiome

Researchers from WHOI, NOAA Fisheries Southwest Science Center, SR3 Sealife, and the Vancouver Aquarium analyzed whale blow samples collected via drone to identify a core group of bacteria in the respiratory tract of healthy whales.

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Whale Biopsy Collection

A team gathers skin samples from healthy humpback whales in waters off the Western Antarctic Peninsula. Researchers obtain samples by releasing a biopsy-collecting dart, which bounces off the whales’ skin and into the water. The team then retrieves the floating dart and brings it back to a lab for analysis.

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Girls in Science Program: bioacoustics

August 2019: Woods Hole Sea Grant has teamed up with Earthwatch Institute on the Girls in Science Fellowship. This fellowship aims to promote diversity and expose young women to a variety of marine careers in STEM. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Research Specialist Laela Sayigh is the principal investigator working with the fellows analyzing marine mammal bioacoustics data.

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Tagging Sharks to Study the Twilight Zone

Former WHOI Joint Program graduate student and current University of Washington postdoc Camrin Braun and his team on the charter fishing vessel Machaca managed to tag two porbeagles, a relative of the goblin shark, about 30 miles east of Chatham, Mass. One was a female nearly seven feet long and weighing 270 pounds. A male came alongside the boat while the team was tagging her and, when they were finished, they quickly hooked the curious male, which measured 6.5 feet and weighed 230 pounds.

Both fish are now equipped with fin-mounted SPOT satellite tags, which will report their location each time they surface and can last up to five years. For the Ocean Twilight Zone team, the big predators are an important indicator of where mesopelagic animals are collecting deep below the surface. In short, the predator will go where the prey is.

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