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Research Highlights

News & Insights

Critically Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales Getting Smaller, New Research Finds

June 10, 2021

A report out this week in Current Biology reveal that critically endangered North Atlantic right whales are up to three feet shorter than 40 years ago. This startling conclusion reinforces what scientists have suspected: even when entanglements do not lead directly to the death of North Atlantic right whales, they can have lasting effects on the imperiled population that may now number less than 400 animals. Further, females that are entangled while nursing produce smaller calves.

right whales

Rare Drone video shows critically endangered North Atlantic right whales

May 10, 2021

May 10, 2021   During a joint research trip on February 28 in Cape Cod Bay, Mass., WHOI whale trauma specialist Michael Moore, National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry, and scientists from New England Aquarium, witnessed a remarkable biological event: North…

A checkup for the oceans reveals threats to human health

December 7, 2020

The health of the world’s ocean is in serious decline—and human health is suffering as a result. A comprehensive report from the Monaco Commission and co-authored by several WHOI researchers investigates the impacts of ocean pollution and recommends actions to safeguard human health.

Unicorns of the Arctic face a new potential threat

December 1, 2020

Narwhals and other marine mammals could be vulnerable to a new threat we’ve become all too familiar with: COVID-19

WHOI working to help save critically endangered North Atlantic right whales

November 10, 2020

North Atlantic right whales are in crisis. There are approximately 356 individuals remaining, and with over 80% bearing scars of entanglements in fishing line, the race to save this species is more critical than ever.

WHOI oceanographer completes epic Arctic mission

October 13, 2020

The largest Arctic science expedition in history has ended, with the return of the German icebreaker Polarstern to its home port of Bremerhaven more than one year after it departed Tromso, Norway.

squid

Listening to fish with passive acoustics

September 30, 2020

Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and NOAA Fisheries combine forces to adapt technologies used to detect marine mammals for fisheries management.

deep water corals

Why we explore deep-water canyons off our coast

September 16, 2020

WHOI biologist Tim Shank joins NOAA Fisheries, the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, the National Ocean Service, and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO) to study the ecological diversity and economic value laden in the 90 underwater canyons along the northeast U.S. continental shelf

Exploring the shipwrecks of Stellwagen Bank

August 21, 2020

Join us live 8/25-8/27, as WHOI and NOAA scientists partner with Marine Imaging Technologies to explore the living shipwrecks of this marine sanctuary. Send in your questions and have them answered in real time to learn more about the diverse marine communities that call these ships home

diver and kelp

Can Seaweed Fuel the Future?

August 13, 2020

Fuels generated from kelp could provide a low-emission alternative to fossil fuels, and WHOI is breeding new strains of kelp and developing autonomous robots to monitor kelp farms

News Releases

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

April 26, 2020

New research by an international team of scientists reveals that endangered North Atlantic right whales are in much poorer body condition than their counterparts in the southern hemisphere.

What did scientists learn from Deepwater Horizon?

April 20, 2020

Ten years after the Deepwater Horizon explosion caused the largest accidental marine oil spill in history, WHOI marine geochemists Elizabeth Kujawinski and Christopher Reddy review what they— and their science colleagues from around the world—have learned.

Snapping shrimp

Warming oceans are getting louder

February 18, 2020

One of the ocean’s loudest creatures will get even louder and more troublesome to humans and sea life as the ocean warms.

Report reveals ‘unseen’ human benefits from ocean twilight zone

January 22, 2020

A new report from researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) reveals for the first time the unseen—and somewhat surprising—benefits that people receive from the ocean’s twilight zone. Also known as the “mesopelagic,” this is the ocean layer just beyond the sunlit surface.

How microbes reflect the health of coral reefs

December 19, 2019

A collaborative study compared seawater from 25 reefs in Cuba and the U.S. Florida Keys varying in human impact and protection, and found that those with higher microbial diversity and lower concentrations of nutrients and organic carbon—primarily caused by human activities—were markedly healthier.

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.

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.

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

November 14, 2019

The funding provided by the SeaWorld Conservation Fund will be primarily used to test alternative non-lethal fishing gear.  Whales and sea turtles commonly entangle in ropes that connect crab or lobster traps on the sea floor to buoys on the sea surface.

Corals

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

September 17, 2019

A new study reveals that more of corals’ nutrients come from hunting than previously expected, information that may help predict the fate of coral reefs as global ocean temperatures rise.

Blue shark

Blue sharks use eddies for fast track to food

August 7, 2019

Blue sharks use large, swirling ocean currents, known as eddies, to fast-track their way down to feed in the ocean twilight zone—a layer of the ocean between 200 and 1000 meters deep containing the largest fish biomass on Earth, according to new research by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the Applied Physics Lab at the University of Washington (UW).

Oceanus Magazine

Fascinating facts about emperor penguins

September 2, 2021

We might chuckle at the sight of penguins waddling over ice, but these flightless birds would put Olympic swimmers to shame. Learn more about emperor penguins, the largest penguin in the world and permanent residents of Antarctica.

Sperm Whale

Keeping an ear out for entangled whales

August 26, 2021

To help mitigate the impacts of illegal fishing off the Sicilian coast, a WHOI scientist and his collaborators are attaching acoustic tags to drift nets so sperm whales can be located and tracked for disentanglement crews.

Cells Under Microscope

A dragnet for toxic algae?

July 26, 2021

To keep a close eye on harmful algal blooms, shellfish farmers are relying on a WHOI-developed camera system that spies on toxic species below the surface and sends alerts when they’re present.

Life at Rock Bottom

July 22, 2021

This digital photo essay brings you the forms, figures, and facts of life more than a mile and half deep

Lauren Dykman

Falling in love with deep-sea parasites

July 14, 2021

At hydrothermal vents there are body-snatchers, intestinal hitchhikers, and chest-bursters, but something about them is still alluring to Lauren Dykman

Sea of Hazards

A Sea of Hazards

October 22, 2020

How ocean scientists are working to safeguard us from the perils of a changing ocean

Eleonora Van Sitteren

Experts Explore the Ocean-Human Health Link

October 8, 2020

Experts Explore the Ocean-Human Health Link November 9, 2020 Eleonora Van Sitteren Guest Student, Lindell Lab I work with the Lindell Lab group at WHOI on a selective breeding program with sugar kelps. These can be used as a carbon-neutral,…

Walking on polar ice

Oceans of Change

February 27, 2020

Oceans of Change WHOI scientists learn how the ocean shapes—and is shaped by—global climate By Madeline Drexler (Photo by Simon Buchou on Unsplash) “THE SEA NEVER CHANGES, AND ITS WORKS, FOR ALL THE TALK OF MEN, ARE WRAPPED IN MYSTERY.”…

Bioacoustic alarms are sounding on Cape Cod

December 5, 2019

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and its Marine Mammal Rescue Team in Yarmouth, Mass. have responded to a record high of more than 464 marine mammals stranded on Cape Cod since January this year. Researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) believe patterns from animal sound data may be the key to curbing these numbers.

Orpheus

The Rise of Orpheus

October 8, 2019

WHOI’s new deep-sea autonomous underwater vehicle moves one step closer to exploring the hadal zone—the deepest region of the ocean—to search for new clues about the limits of life on Earth, and possibly beyond.