Research Highlights

News & Insights

grey seal in gillnet

Underwater cameras tackle tough questions for fishery

September 3, 2019

Ocean scientists and fishermen team up to document seal-fishing net interactions By Evan Lubofsky | September 4, 2019 Depredation—when seals and other marine animals prey on fish caught in net—can be costly both economically and ecologically. It can reduce the...

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...

Blue shark

A tunnel to the Twilight Zone

August 2, 2019

Blue sharks ride deep-swirling currents to the ocean’s midwater at mealtime By Evan Lubofsky | August 2, 2019 Video by Camrin Braun, University of Washington and Tane Sinclair-Taylor, James Cook University. When you’re hungry, wouldn’t it be nice to just...

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...

Fish with Flashlights

May 30, 2019

3 ways ocean twilight zone creatures use bioluminescence By Evan Lubofsky | May 30, 2019 Animation by Natalie Reiner and Craig LaPlante, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Animation by Natalie Reiner, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution In 1637, when French philosopher and...

clinging Jellyfish

Scientists investigate global spread of stinging jellyfish

May 22, 2019

Transportation and warmer ocean temperatures could play a role By Evan Lubofsky | May 22, 2019 A clinging jellyfish spreads its tentacles as it drifts downwards. (Video by Björn Källström, Gothenburg Marine Biological Laboratory) A clinging jellyfish spreads its tentacles...

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

Ocean twilight zone scientists tackle the challenge of bringing light to a place of perpetual darkness By Evan Lubofsky | May 15, 2019 WHOI scientists and engineers are testing out different types of LED lights in the ocean twilight zone...

Virgin Island Corals in Crisis

May 7, 2019

Fast-spreading coral disease ravages reefs of St. Thomas By Evan Lubofsky | May 7, 2019 Brain corals in the U.S. Virgin Islands, like the one shown here, are exhibiting the same types of large, stark-white lesions as diseased corals in...

A disentanglement team attempts to free a right whale from fishing gear. EcoHealth Alliance, NOAA Permit #932-1905.

Untangling Impacts on Right Whales

May 3, 2019

Whale scientists look for new ways to mitigate entanglements of North Atlantic Right Whales in fishing lines By Hannah Piecuch, Evan Lubofsky | May 07, 2019 A disentanglement team attempts to free a right whale from fishing gear. EcoHealth Alliance,...

Marine ecologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is exploring new, non-invasive approaches to measuring the body mass of gray seals. Photo by Michelle Shero

Seal Spy

May 1, 2019

Drones helps WHOI scientist measure the body mass of mother and pup seals during lactation By Evan Lubofsky | May 1, 2019 Marine ecologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is exploring new, non-invasive approaches to measuring the body mass of...

Oceanus Magazine

Down to the Sea on (Gene) Chips

Down to the Sea on (Gene) Chips

May 25, 2005

A half-century ago, James Watson and Francis Crick (aided by Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins) discovered the double-helical structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Other scientists soon showed how DNA—through a triplet code of nucleotide bases on the DNA “spiral staircase”...

Voyages into the Antarctic  Winter

Voyages into the Antarctic Winter

April 25, 2005

At the extreme ends of the Earth, Antarctica is a vast, rocky continent, mostly ice-covered and barren. Surrounding Antarctica, the Southern Ocean is equally vast, cold, and ice-covered. But unlike the land, it teems with life, ranging from microscopic plankton...

How to See What Whales Hear

How to See What Whales Hear

April 19, 2005

On summer nights, if you sit quietly at the edge of a field or watch the edges of the light pools around street lamps, you will see bats swooping through shadowy darkness in search of moths or other flying prey....

Big Trouble from Little Squirts

Big Trouble from Little Squirts

April 7, 2005

Sandwich Town Beach was empty at low tide on a winter afternoon when scientist Mary Carman yanked on hip boots and waded among the eel grass and barnacles, her brown eyes scanning the clear water. Spotting a butter-colored mass on...

Run Deep, But Not Silent

Run Deep, But Not Silent

March 16, 2005

Whales are among the most elusive animals that humans have ever hunted. Pursuing whales across the seas and centuries, whalers made careful observations of whale behavior whenever and wherever they surfaced. But sperm whales, for example, spend about 95 percent...

Playing Tag with Whales

Playing Tag with Whales

March 16, 2005

The challenge of designing a device to learn what marine mammals do on dives is the stuff of dreams for an electronics engineer. In the spring of 1999, the time was right to build the digital acoustic recording tag, or...

Little Things Matter A Lot

Little Things Matter A Lot

March 11, 2005

When people think of bacteria, they usually think of germs—disease-causing agents that threaten human health. In reality, they make life on Earth possible. One group of bacteria—the cyanobacteria—has completely transformed Earth’s environment through their long history. Three billion years ago,...

Tracking Fish to Save Them

Tracking Fish to Save Them

February 15, 2005

For decades, the Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus) was one of the most sought-after fish species in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, from the Bahamas to Central America. These large, delicious fish live among coral reefs and have a breeding...

Coral Gardens in the Dark Depths

Coral Gardens in the Dark Depths

February 7, 2005

The words “coral reefs” conjure up images of a tropical paradise: shallow, warm, aquamarine waters, bright sunlight, white coral sand, and colorful, darting fish. But corals also live deep in the sea, in regions where the sun doesn’t penetrate and...

New Instrument Sheds Light on Bioluminescence

New Instrument Sheds Light on Bioluminescence

January 27, 2005

On a 1995 research cruise in the Arabian Sea, WHOI Research Engineer Paul Fucile asked an innocent question, just to satisfy his curiosity. He had been watching a three-person Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) team use a deck-mounted winch and a...

News Releases

Blue shark

Blue sharks use eddies for fast track to food

August 7, 2019

Researchers tagged more than a dozen blue sharks off the U.S. Northeast Coast and monitored them for nine months. (Video by Camrin Braun, University of Washington and Tane Sinclair-Taylor, James Cook University.)   Blue sharks use large, swirling ocean currents,...

Basking shark

SharkCam reveals secret lives of basking sharks in UK

August 6, 2019

Underwater footage captured by the REMUS SharkCam observing the behavior of basking sharks off the west coast of Scotland. (Credit: Amy Kukulya, @oceanrobotcam, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) An autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) known as the REMUS SharkCam has been used...

An illustration of an organism infected with the giant virus known as Mimivirus. Credit: Shutterstock

Surprising Enzymes Found in Giant Ocean Viruses

June 5, 2019

Findings could represent new drug targets for human pathogens A new study led by researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Swansea University Medical School furthers our knowledge of viruses—in the sea and on land— and their potential to...

whales

New Sub-species of Pilot Whale Identified in Pacific Ocean

June 3, 2019

Short-finned pilot whales are found over a wide swath of the world’s oceans, with habitats in the Indian, and Pacific, and North Atlantic oceans. Despite this wide distribution, the whales have been recognized as a single species—but a recent study...

New species of coral found in Lydonia Canyon

New Deep-Sea Coral Species Discovered in Atlantic Marine Monument

April 9, 2019

DNA analysis recently confirmed that Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists and their collaborators at OceanX, the University of Connecticut (UConn), and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) discovered two new species of deep-sea corals during a September 2018 expedition in...

Finding New Homes Won't Help Emperor Penguins Cope with Climate Change

Finding New Homes Won’t Help Emperor Penguins Cope with Climate Change

June 7, 2017

If projections for melting Antarctic sea ice through 2100 are correct, the vanishing landscape will strip Emperor penguins of their breeding and feeding grounds and put populations at risk.  But like other species that migrate to escape the wrath of...

Travel Distances of Juvenile Fish Key to Better Conservation

Travel Distances of Juvenile Fish Key to Better Conservation

May 15, 2017

Marine reserves—sections of the ocean where fishing is prohibited—promote coral reef sustainability by preventing overfishing and increasing fish abundance and diversity. But to be effective, they need to be sized right, and in a way that accounts for how far...

Don Anderson

Don Anderson Selected for Prestigious Ketchum Award for Coastal Research

April 3, 2017

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has selected Dr. Don Anderson, a senior scientist in the Biology Department at WHOI to receive the prestigious 2017 Bostwick H. Ketchum Award. The award honors an internationally recognized scientist who demonstrates an innovative...

A New Long-Term Ecological Research Site Announced for the Northeast U.S. Shelf

A New Long-Term Ecological Research Site Announced for the Northeast U.S. Shelf

March 1, 2017

The Atlantic Ocean off the Northeast U.S. coast is known for its productive fisheries and abundant harvests. As in other coastal oceans, human activities, short-term environmental variability, and long-term trends all affect the region’s complex food web and may threaten...

Some Fish Quickly Adapt to Lethal Levels of Pollution

Some Fish Quickly Adapt to Lethal Levels of Pollution

December 8, 2016

Evolution is working under pressure to rescue some coastal fish from a lethal, human-altered environment. Now, a new study has revealed the complex genetic basis for the Atlantic killifish’s remarkable resilience. The new findings, published Dec. 9 in the journal...