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Research Highlights

News & Insights

Michael Moore

After 33 years, Michael Moore is still free to be curious at WHOI

September 26, 2019

Michael Moore is a senior scientist and director of the Marine Mammal Center at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Summer Resident

Chris Linder wins Photography Award for story on Adélie penguins

September 25, 2019

Expedition Multimedia Specialist Chris Linder wins Nature’s Best Photography Magazine’s Conservation Story Award on Adélie penguins

grey seal in gillnet

Underwater cameras tackle tough questions for fishery

September 3, 2019

Scientists, in collaboration with commercial fishermen, are using underwater video cameras to document the behavior of seals and other animals in and around fishing nets just east of Cape Cod—an area that has seen steady growth in gray seal populations over the past few years. 

WHOI in the Christian Science Monitor: How the deep sea could unlock outer space

August 28, 2019

“When hydrothermal vents were discovered in 1977, it very much flipped biology on its end,” says Julie Huber, an oceanographer who studies life in and below the seafloor at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) on Cape Cod. “People knew that organisms could live off of chemical energy, but they didn’t imagine they could support animal ecosystems.”

Scientists like Dr. Huber have continued to study those chemical-munching microbes. And it turns out, she says, a diverse set of microbes can be really good at making a living where the sun doesn’t shine. They make use of the chemicals available to them, even at some of the harshest vents, known as black smokers.

Blue shark

A tunnel to the Twilight Zone

August 2, 2019

Scientists track hungry blue sharks as they ride swirling currents down to the ocean twilight zone—a layer of the ocean containing the largest fish biomass on Earth

Once more into the Twilight Zone

August 1, 2019

On July 25, scientists embarked on the 2019 Ocean Twilight Zone expedition aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow. A team made up of WHOI and NOAA Fisheries researchers departed Newport, R.I., Thursday morning and headed south towards the edge of the continental shelf. This will be the first full scientific mission into the ocean twilight zone for the towed underwater vehicle, Deep-See.

Fish with Flashlights

May 30, 2019

Down in the dark and shadowy ocean twilight zone, countless species—bristlemouths, lanternfishes, jellies, and others—rely on bioluminescence for a variety of important functions, including finding their next meal, outsmarting predators, and looking for mates.

clinging Jellyfish

Scientists investigate global spread of stinging jellyfish

May 22, 2019

New invasions reported in New England and Sweden, prompting researchers to look at a variety of potential causes including transportation, warmer ocean temperatures, and a resurgence of eelgrass.

Many ocean twilight zone animals have adapted to their dark surroundings with larger-than-normal eyes. (Photo by Paul Caiger, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Bringing Light into Darkness

May 15, 2019

WHOI scientists and engineers tackle the challenge of illuminating life in the sunless waters of the ocean twilight zone

Virgin Island Corals in Crisis

May 7, 2019

A coral disease outbreak that wiped out nearly 80% of stony corals between Florida’s Key Biscayne and Key West during the past two years appears to have spread to the U.S. Virgin Islands (U.S.V.I.), where reefs that were once vibrant and teeming with life are now left skeleton white in the disease’s wake.

News Releases

WHOI Scientists Make Woods Hole Film Festival Appearance

July 17, 2020

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists appear in two shorts and a feature film at this year’s Woods Hole Film Festival (WHFF). In addition, scientists will also participate in Q&A sessions connected to three of the festival’s feature-length, ocean-themed entries....

Fishing less could be a win for both lobstermen and endangered whales

May 27, 2020

A new study by researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found that New England’s historic lobster fishery may turn a higher profit by operating with less gear in the water and a shorter season. The findings could provide a...

North Atlantic right whales are in much poorer condition than their Southern counterparts

April 26, 2020

A new study by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists and their colleagues reveals that endangered North Atlantic right whales are in much poorer body condition than their counterparts in the southern hemisphere. The international research team, led by Fredrik...

What did scientists learn from Deepwater Horizon?

April 20, 2020

Paper reviews major findings, technological advances that could help in next deep-sea spill.  Ten years ago, a powerful explosion destroyed an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and injuring 17 others. Over a span of 87...

Snapping shrimp

Warming oceans are getting louder

February 18, 2020

One of the ocean’s loudest creatures is smaller than you’d expect—and will get even louder and more troublesome to humans and sea life as the ocean warms, according to new research presented at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Diego,...

Report reveals ‘unseen’ human benefits from ocean twilight zone

January 22, 2020

Exclusive report Value Beyond View: Illuminating the human benefits of the ocean twilight zone Download now – it’s free! Did you know that there’s a natural carbon sink—even bigger than the Amazon rainforest—that helps regulate Earth’s climate by sucking up...

How microbes reflect the health of coral reefs

December 19, 2019

Microorganisms play important roles in the health and protection of coral reefs, yet exploring these connections can be difficult due to the lack of unspoiled reef systems throughout the global ocean. A collaborative study led by scientists at the Woods...

squid

Underwater pile driving noise causes alarm responses in squid

December 16, 2019

Exposure to underwater pile driving noise, which can be associated with the construction of docks, piers, and offshore wind farms, causes squid to exhibit strong alarm behaviors, according to a study by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) researchers published Dec....

Whales may owe their efficient digestion to millions of tiny microbes

December 4, 2019

A study by researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) shows that the microbial communities inside whales may play an important role in the digestion of one of the ocean’s most abundant carbon-rich lipids, known as a wax ester. Their...

SeaWorld & Busch Gardens conservation fund commits $900,000 to protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales

November 14, 2019

The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund announced that it has committed $900,000 over the next three years in the fight to save the critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whale.  The announcement was made by Dr. Michael Moore of the Woods...

Oceanus Magazine

The Deep-See Peers into the Depths

The Deep-See Peers into the Depths

February 20, 2019

In the ocean’s shadowy depths lies one of the Earth’s last frontiers: the ocean twilight zone. It’s a vast swath of water extending throughout the world’s oceans from 650 to 3,280 feet (200 to 1,000 meters) below the surface, and...

Do Microplastics in the Ocean Affect Scallops?

Do Microplastics in the Ocean Affect Scallops?

January 24, 2019

WHOI scientist Scott Gallager is making field observations and conducting lab experiments to explore the possible effects of microplastics in the ocean on marine organisms. Specifically, he’s looking at sea scallops at different life stages to determine if the tiny...

To Tag a Squid

To Tag a Squid

January 3, 2019
Junk Food

Junk Food

December 17, 2018

An estimated eight million tons of plastics enter our oceans each year, yet only one percent can be seen floating at the surface. This is the third in a three-part series of stories about how researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic...

The Secret Tuna Nursery

The Secret Tuna Nursery

November 20, 2018

It was a little after 10 p.m., and several hundred miles off the coast of Massachusetts, Chrissy Hernandez was counting eyeballs. Scattered across a dinner plate-sized sieve in front of her was the harvest from yet another tow with a...

A Lobster Trap for Microbes

A Lobster Trap for Microbes

October 22, 2018

When you sprinkle even a few tiny flakes of fish food into an aquarium, it’s pretty easy to gauge how fish react. They typically swim fast and furiously straight toward the sinking particles and chow down before the food can...

The Recipe for a Harmful Algal Bloom

The Recipe for a Harmful Algal Bloom

August 21, 2018

In 2015, 239 poisoned sea lions washed ashore on the California coast. The culprit? A single-celled organism one-tenth the width of a human hair. The microscopic organism is a tiny cell with a long Latin name: Pseudo-nitzschia. On its own, one...

Life at the Edge

August 14, 2018

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

Sharks Take 'Tunnels' into the Depths

Sharks Take ‘Tunnels’ into the Depths

July 23, 2018

As the Gulf Stream current curves away from North America and heads east across the Atlantic, it swirls at its edges. If one of these swirls is large enough, it will pinch off, sending a whirling pocket of water—more than...

The Discovery of Hydrothermal Vents

The Discovery of Hydrothermal Vents

June 11, 2018

“Wait a minute. What is that?” It was February 1977, and Robert Ballard, a marine geologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), sat aboard the research vessel Knorr 400 miles off the South American coast, staring at photos before him....