Research Highlights

News & Insights

Paul Caiger hunts for things that glow in the Ocean Twilight Zone

January 14, 2020

By Daniel Hentz Paul Caiger descends to the ocean twilight zone on the OceanX submersible, Nadir, with pilot Alan Scott at the controls. (Photo by © OceanX Media) Paul Caiger is a fish biologist, marine photographer and postdoctoral investigator at...

The Ocean’s Moveable Feast

January 8, 2020

Today, warming waters are redrawing the lines of the marine food web By Madeline Drexler | January 9, 2020 Warm ocean temperatures caused large-scale ecological disruption that affected different species, including lobster. (© AP Photo / Robert F. Bukaty as...

Sea anemones with jet lag?

December 17, 2019

Not exactly, but scientists are investigating the internal clock that keeps inchworm-sized anemones ticking By Evan Lubofsky | December 18, 2019 (Illustration by Natalie Renier, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) For humans, light is a strong environmental time cue that keeps...

Bioacoustic alarms are sounding on Cape Cod

December 5, 2019

How a WHOI/IFAW study on dolphin sounds could help decrease mass strandings on the cape By Daniel Hentz  |  December 5, 2019 IFAW’s Marine Mammal Rescue Team and volunteers respond to a stranding of four common dolphins on Scussett Beach,...

Red Sea ‘hotspot’ study reveals behaviors of whale sharks

November 25, 2019

A whale shark swims near Shib Habil reef in the Red Sea. (Photo by Simon Thorrold, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) A new study of whale shark movements near a known hotspot in the Red Sea sheds light on their behaviors...

Searching for the limits of life: Taylor Heyl

November 7, 2019

By Evan Lubofsky | October 23, 2019 WHOI deep-sea biologist Taylor Heyl (in foreground) explores Lydonia Canyon in the OceanX submersible NADIR during a dive in the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument. (Photo by Luis Lamar for National Geographic)...

orpheus

The Rise of Orpheus

November 7, 2019

WHOI’s new hadal robot moves one step closer to exploring the limits of life on Earth and beyond By Evan Lubofsky | October 8, 2019 Orpheus, an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), is deployed off the New England continental shelf during...

A swordfish swims near the ocean’s surface off the coast of Miami, Florida. Researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the University of Washington tagged a group of five swords there to track their movements in and out of the ocean twilight zone, a dimly-lit layer of the ocean between 200 and 1000 meters deep (656 to 3,280 feet). (Photo by Steve Dougherty Photography).

Following the elusive sword

November 5, 2019

Satellite tags allow researchers to “see” how swordfish move in and out of the ocean twilight zone By Evan Lubofsky | November 4, 2019 A swordfish swims near the ocean’s surface off the coast of Miami, Florida. Researchers from Woods...

Marine fireworks

WHOI partners with 4Ocean to celebrate Jellyfish this month

November 5, 2019
WHOI Senior Scientist Joan Bernhard holds a synthetic model of a foram species known as Astrammina

Falling in love with foraminifera

October 30, 2019

A marine geobiologist falls for the ‘brains’ and beauty of an ancient single-celled creature By Evan Lubofsky | October 29, 2019 WHOI Senior Scientist Joan Bernhard holds a synthetic model of a foram species known as Astrammina triangularis that changes...

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

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...

Corals

New study measures how much of corals’ nutrition comes from hunting

September 17, 2019

A polyp of the smooth cauliflower coral (Stylophora pistillata), uses the stinging cells in its tentacles to capture a small shrimp, which is then pulled into the mouth of the polyp and digested. Coral colonies contain thousands of individual polyps...

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...