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Research Highlights

News & Insights

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

seal eating fish

Scientists and fishermen team up to film seals in fishing nets

August 6, 2020

Seals find ease in taking a meal already ensnared in wall-like gillnets cast by fishermen, but at what cost? WHOI biologist Andrea Bogomolni works with the fishing community to record and observe this behavior with the hopes of mitigating marine mammal bycatch

Jellyfish

Jellyfish larger than blue whales?

July 14, 2020

Recent accounts in the media have described the appearance of lion’s mane jellyfish in waters and beaches in the Northeast as a surprising, sometimes troubling, event, with record sizes and numbers reported from Maine to the Massachusetts south coast. But is this event noteworthy? Or, as some have implied, is it a sign of failing ocean health? Three WHOI marine biologists weighed in to put events into perspective.

Working from Home: Scott Lindell

June 25, 2020

Though pandemic slows countless research projects, kelp breeding program can’t stop. A WHOI community rallies to help Scott Lindell and his lab sort over 2,200 blades.

Bottlenose dolphins continue to compensate for humans in spite of pandemic

June 11, 2020

Though vessel noise may be quieting down on the high seas, one coastal area in Florida is seeing an upswing in boat traffic according to local authorities, putting more pressure on the world’s longest-studied wild bottlenose dolphin community. A recent WHOI study suggests this is only the beginning of a larger trend.

Carin Ashjian

Arctic researcher returns home to a pandemic

May 28, 2020
Becker working remotely

Lab shutdowns enable speedier investigation of coral disease

May 20, 2020

Despite labs shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WHOI microbiologists are working fast to solve a different kind of outbreak—one travelling below the ocean’s surface and ravaging coral reefs from Florida to the Caribbean.

As ice melts, emperor penguins march toward extinction

May 12, 2020

“Under a business-as-usual scenario, emperor penguins are marching towards extinction,” says Stéphanie Jenouvrier, a seabird biologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. Her team’s research indicates that if carbon emissions remain unchecked, 80 percent of the emperor colonies could be gone by 2100, leaving little hope for the species’ survival.

News Releases

WHOI Scientists Make Woods Hole Film Festival Appearance

July 17, 2020

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists appear in two shorts and a feature film at this year’s Woods Hole Film Festival (WHFF). In addition, scientists will also participate in Q&A sessions connected to three of the festival’s feature-length, ocean-themed entries....

Fishing less could be a win for both lobstermen and endangered whales

May 27, 2020

A new study by researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found that New England’s historic lobster fishery may turn a higher profit by operating with less gear in the water and a shorter season. The findings could provide a...

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

April 26, 2020

A new study by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists and their colleagues reveals that endangered North Atlantic right whales are in much poorer body condition than their counterparts in the southern hemisphere. The international research team, led by Fredrik...

What did scientists learn from Deepwater Horizon?

April 20, 2020

Paper reviews major findings, technological advances that could help in next deep-sea spill.  Ten years ago, a powerful explosion destroyed an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and injuring 17 others. Over a span of 87...

Snapping shrimp

Warming oceans are getting louder

February 18, 2020

One of the ocean’s loudest creatures is smaller than you’d expect—and will get even louder and more troublesome to humans and sea life as the ocean warms, according to new research presented at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Diego,...

Report reveals ‘unseen’ human benefits from ocean twilight zone

January 22, 2020

Exclusive report Value Beyond View: Illuminating the human benefits of the ocean twilight zone Download now – it’s free! Did you know that there’s a natural carbon sink—even bigger than the Amazon rainforest—that helps regulate Earth’s climate by sucking up...

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...

Oceanus Magazine

Illuminating the Ocean with Sound

Illuminating the Ocean with Sound

April 26, 2017
The Amazing Acquired Phototroph!

The Amazing Acquired Phototroph!

April 20, 2017

Bent over her microscope, Holly Moeller finds the single-celled organisms she examines “utterly charming to look at.” They are fringed all around with hairlike cilia. “It looks like they’re wearing a hula skirt, and they use the skirt to propel...

The Hotspot for Marine Life

The Hotspot for Marine Life

April 13, 2017
Spring Arrives Earlier in the Ocean Too

Spring Arrives Earlier in the Ocean Too

March 20, 2017

Warmer oceans are triggering phytoplankton to start their annual blooms up to four weeks earlier than usual—a signal of how climate change can have far-reaching impacts on marine ecosystems. From 2003 to 2016, scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution monitored...

Eavesdropping on Whales

Eavesdropping on Whales

March 15, 2017

New Yorkers have been surprised to learn that a wide variety of whales are swimming in their watery backyard, cruising New York Harbor sometimes within sight of the Statue of Liberty. Sounds from humpback, fin, sei, and endangered North Atlantic...

How Do Larvae Find a Place to Settle Down?

How Do Larvae Find a Place to Settle Down?

February 20, 2017

It’s still a mystery: How do the tiny larvae of marine animals that hatch in the open ocean find their way to coral reefs where they settle as adults? One theory is that they home in on suitable coral neighborhoods...

A Big Decline of River Herring

A Big Decline of River Herring

February 14, 2017

Many New Englanders still recall the vast springtime runs of river herring. Millions of the small silvery fish swam up coastal freshwater streams, returning from the sea to spawn. Two species of river herring, alewives and blueback herring, are critical...

Eavesdropping on Shrimp's Snap Chat

Eavesdropping on Shrimp’s Snap Chat

January 30, 2017

Put your head under water near a coral reef or an oyster bed, said Ashlee Lillis, and you’ll likely hear a strange crackling sound. “It’s been described as sizzling or frying fat,” said Lillis, a postdoctoral scholar at Woods Hole...

To Track a Sea Turtle

To Track a Sea Turtle

December 5, 2016

Kara Dwyer Dodge grew up hearing stories of the sea monster her father pulled from the ocean. In 1966, Richard Dwyer, a third-generation fisherman in Scituate, Mass., found a sea turtle entangled in the lines of one of his lobster...

A Slithery Ocean Mystery

A Slithery Ocean Mystery

August 25, 2016

One sentence in a New York Times article caught Larry Pratt’s eye and set the scientific investigation in motion. The story was about fishermen harvesting juvenile eels in coastal waters of the Gulf of Maine and selling them for more...