Research Highlights

News & Insights

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

The Bacteria on Your Beaches

The Bacteria on Your Beaches

May 7, 2018

The time had come to examine the dishes creating that noxious smell throughout the kitchen. It wasn’t coming from unwashed dishes in the sink; it came from the top of the refrigerator. That’s where I had put petri dishes growing...

Mission to the Ocean Twilight Zone

Mission to the Ocean Twilight Zone

April 17, 2018

Night falls over the open ocean. The sunlit blues and greens of its mercurial surface gradually fade to gray, then darken to inky black. Hundreds of feet below, a multitude of fish, squid, plankton, and other mid-ocean dwellers begin their...

Who Grows There?

Who Grows There?

January 26, 2018

If you’ve spent time by the ocean, you’ve probably seen the masses of barnacles, sponges, and other invertebrates that grow in abundance on submerged rocks, boats, docks, aquatic plants, and even the shells of snails and other marine life. Kirstin...

Scientists Reveal Secrets of Whales

Scientists Reveal Secrets of Whales

January 22, 2018

Researchers have known for decades that whales create elaborate songs. But a new study has revealed a component of whale songs that has long been overlooked—sort of a booming baseline to go along with the treble. Aboard a small research...

Long-term Study Focuses on New England Ocean

Long-term Study Focuses on New England Ocean

January 10, 2018

Off the Northeastern U.S. lies one of the most productive ocean regions on the planet—a hotspot for marine life, abounding in everything from microscopic organisms at the bottom of the food chain to sharks, turtles, whales, and commercial fisheries at...

Tiny Jellyfish with a Big Sting

Tiny Jellyfish with a Big Sting

January 3, 2018

People who want to know where their ancestors came from can sometimes find answers hidden in their DNA. Annette Govindarajan also uses DNA—to map the origins of a venomous stinging jellyfish that is becoming more prevalent off the coast of...

The Marine Reserve Goldilocks Problem

The Marine Reserve Goldilocks Problem

December 1, 2017

To protect coral reefs, governments and conservationists are looking to establish networks of marine reserves, where fishing is prohibited. But for the reserves to work, they need to be the right size and distance apart from one another. If a...

Scientists Reveal Secrets of Whales

Scientists Reveal Secrets of Whales

December 1, 2017

Using drones to fly into the misty “blows” of exhaling humpback whales, scientists have found for the first time that the whales had a common set of microorganisms—a respiratory microbiome that may help maintain their health. In recent years, scientists...

How Do Fish Find Their Way?

How Do Fish Find Their Way?

September 6, 2017

A day in the field for Justin Suca begins at 4:45 in the morning, just before the first stars begin to disappear from the sky over the island of St. John. He’ll spend the next five hours motoring around the...

PlankZooka & SUPR-REMUS

PlankZooka & SUPR-REMUS

June 1, 2017

Much of marine life begins as microscopic larvae—so tiny, delicate, and scattered in hard-to-reach parts of ocean that scientists have had a tough time illuminating this fundamental stage of life in the ocean. To see what’s out there, scientists have...

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...