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

Can We Catch More Fish and Still Preserve the Stock?

Can We Catch More Fish and Still Preserve the Stock?

January 19, 2005

Near the town of Webster in southern Massachusetts there is a small lake with a long name: Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg. The correct translation, from the original Native American language, refers to Englishmen fishing at a certain place, near a boundary. But...

A Fatal Attraction for Harmful Algae

A Fatal Attraction for Harmful Algae

January 14, 2005

A Korean scientist once told me a folk tale about an ancient emperor who ordered servants to rid his garden ponds of an algal scum that killed his fish and blemished his kingdom. One perceptive servant noticed that whenever rain...

Rites of Passage for Juvenile Marine Life

Rites of Passage for Juvenile Marine Life

January 11, 2005

The childhood of a barnacle is fraught with challenges. It hatches in shallow waters close to shore as a tiny larva, no bigger than a speck of dust. Currents sweep it to deeper, choppy waters, sometimes miles offshore. In these...

The Growing Problem of Harmful Algae

The Growing Problem of Harmful Algae

November 12, 2004

July and August 2004 — At the height of the summer season, when New Englanders and thousands of tourists open their wallets to buy fresh “steamers” and fried clam strips, Maine’s shellfish beds are shut down. Concerned by the worst...

Scientists Muster to Help Right Whales

Scientists Muster to Help Right Whales

November 4, 2004

It is a sad irony that we have cataloged individual photographs of the remaining North Atlantic right whales and given each of them unique numbers and sometimes names, yet still know too little about their physiology, behavior, and habitats to...

Whither the North Atlantic Right Whale?

Whither the North Atlantic Right Whale?

November 3, 2004

For millions of years, the North Atlantic Ocean has been home to right whales. In winter months, they gave birth to calves off the shores of West Africa in the eastern Atlantic and off Florida and Georgia in the western...

Revealing the Ocean's Invisible Abundance

Revealing the Ocean’s Invisible Abundance

October 25, 2004

Microbes. They are invisible to the naked eye, but they play a critical role in keeping our planet habitable. They are everywhere, in abundant numbers, but are still difficult to find. They come in a multitude of varieties, but too...

Shedding Light on Light in the Ocean

Shedding Light on Light in the Ocean

October 15, 2004

Light in the ocean is like light in no other place on Earth. It is a world that is visibly different from our familiar terrestrial world, and one that marine animals, plants, and microbes are adapted to in extraordinary ways....

Life in the Arctic Ocean

Life in the Arctic Ocean

September 15, 2004

Capped with a formidable ice and snow cover, plunged into total darkness during the winter, buffeted by blizzard winds, and bitterly cold, the Arctic Ocean is one of the most inaccessible and yet beautiful environments on Earth. Life here endures...

The Secret Lives of Fish

The Secret Lives of Fish

August 27, 2004

The ocean’s once-abundant fisheries—a resource that helps feed the world and drives multi-billion-dollar economies—are rapidly being depleted. Seventy percent of the ocean’s fish are being fished at or above catch limits that would sustain the fish stocks, according to 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...