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Research Highlights

News & Insights

Wave Glider provides gateway to remote exploration

November 10, 2020

WHOI geochemist Chris German pairs an autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) called a Wave Glider with other vehicles to expand research here and on other Ocean Worlds

Mining ancient dust from the ocean’s loneliest spot

September 24, 2020

Researchers investigate dust from the ocean’s farthest point from land to reconstruct the climactic history of the Southern Hemisphere, and understand how micronutrients have influenced biological productivity in this oceanic desert.

Working from Home: Mallory Ringham

July 2, 2020

WHOI-MIT joint program student outfits her basement to do vital work on a marine carbon sensor

oil spill

A dangerous leak of diesel fuel in the Arctic

June 18, 2020
plastics by the numbers

The many lifetimes of plastics

June 15, 2020

Infographics strive to give us a sense of how long plastic goods will last in the environment. But is this information reliable? The findings of a new study from WHOI may surprise you.

toxins story

Are natural toxins in fish harmful?

May 28, 2020

Marine life has been naturally producing toxic chemicals well before chemical companies were manufacturing PCBs. But are these naturally-produced compounds as harmful as man-made environmental pollutants, and do those pose a human health threat?

Working from Home: Matt Long

May 7, 2020

A marine chemist spends his time at home tinkering on a high-tech buoy in the basement, proving that being homebound doesn’t mean you can’t think big.

Our Radioactive Ocean: Ken Buesseler

April 30, 2020

Ken Buesseler joins the hosts of Future Hindsight Podcast to talk about the safety of the Pacific Ocean, the natural occurrence of radioactivity in our environment, and a citizen scientist project for oceanic testing.

Why Sunlight Matters for Marine Oil Spills

April 30, 2020

A decade of research since the Deepwater Horizon disaster has revealed how sunlight—its importance long understated in oil spill science—substantially alters petroleum floating at the sea surface.


Finding medical answers in the ocean

March 19, 2020

The test being used to diagnose the novel coronavirus—and other pandemics like AIDS and SARS—was developed with the help of an enzyme isolated from a microbe found in marine hydrothermal vents as well as freshwater hot springs.

News Releases

First Detailed Oil Sample Analysis Completed from Mauritius Oil Spill

October 29, 2020

When the Japanese bulk carrier MV Wakashio struck a coral reef off the coast of Mauritius on July 25, 2020, and began leaking fuel oil two weeks later, local residents and the international community sprang into action to protect the pristine habitats...

New multi-institutional grant will support a fleet of robotic floats

October 29, 2020

On October 29, 2020, the National Science Foundation approved a $53 million grant to a consortium of the country’s top ocean-research institutions to build a global network of chemical and biological sensors that will monitor ocean health. Scientists at the...

Porites coral

Ocean acidification causing coral ‘osteoporosis’ on iconic reefs

August 27, 2020

Scientists have long suspected that ocean acidification is affecting corals’ ability to build their skeletons, but it has been challenging to isolate its effect from that of simultaneous warming ocean temperatures, which also influence coral growth. New research from the...

New paper addresses the mix of contaminants in Fukushima wastewater

August 6, 2020

Nearly 10 years after the Tohoku-oki earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant and triggered an unprecedented release radioactivity into the ocean, radiation levels have fallen to safe levels in all but the waters closest to the...

Benjamin Van Mooy

WHOI receives $2.7M from Simons Foundation to study nutrients, microbes that fuel ocean food web

July 23, 2020

The Simons Foundation has awarded Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists Dan Repeta and Benjamin Van Mooy two grants totaling $2.7 million to study key processes that help fuel the health of our ocean and planet. Repeta’s research will focus...

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....

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...

New geochemical tool reveals origin of Earth’s nitrogen

April 15, 2020

Volcanic gas emissions in Northern Iceland. The research team collected gas samples here that were analyzed as part of this study. (Photo by Peter Barry, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) Novel analysis method may also be useful for monitoring volcanic...

Healy, Polarstern

A rapidly changing Arctic

April 8, 2020

Shelf sediments, freshwater runoff from rivers brings more carbon, nutrients to North Pole A new study by researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and their international colleagues found that freshwater runoff from rivers and continental shelf sediments are bringing...

Buesseler sediment trap

The ocean’s ‘biological pump’ captures more carbon than expected

April 6, 2020

Scientists have long known that the ocean plays an essential role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere, but a new study shows that the efficiency of the ocean’s “biological carbon pump” has been drastically underestimated. (Video by Elise Hugus, UnderCurrent...

Oceanus Magazine

Listening In As Bacteria 'Talk' to Each Other

Listening In As Bacteria ‘Talk’ to Each Other

November 3, 2008

The 27th of January, at the entrance of the vast Bay of Bengal … about seven o’clock in the evening, the Nautilus … was sailing in a sea of milk. … Was it the effect of the lunar rays? No:...

Researchers Band Together to Create a Band

Researchers Band Together to Create a Band

October 27, 2008
How Does Nature Deal with Persistent Pollutants?

How Does Nature Deal with Persistent Pollutants?

October 22, 2008

Why would I choose to spend my years in graduate school up to my elbows in foul-smelling whale blubber? To explore how some of the most notorious man-made pollutants reach dangerous concentrations in large predators, even when concentrations of these...

The Spiral Secret to Mammal Hearing

The Spiral Secret to Mammal Hearing

September 17, 2008
For Graduate Student, Research Is a Gas

For Graduate Student, Research Is a Gas

July 24, 2008

When you spend 40 days on a ship in the South Atlantic, enduring equipment failures, icebergs, and the occasional surly shipmate, you should at least get to see a few penguins for your trouble. But when Naomi Levine went to...

DMS: The Climate Gas You've Never Heard Of

DMS: The Climate Gas You’ve Never Heard Of

July 17, 2008

For generations of mariners, a tangy, almost sweet odor served as a signal that land was nearby. What sailors called “the smell of the shore” had the opposite meaning to landlubbers, who would catch the same sweet scent wafting over...

Earth, Wind, and Fire in Antarctica

Earth, Wind, and Fire in Antarctica

June 25, 2008

From a windy, isolated camp in southern Victoria Land, Antarctica, three scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution explore how the waterless, lifeless, volcanic terrain formed and evolved. Read the story and watch the video. <!—-> When you get off the...

Popular Way to Assess Oil Spills Can Be Misused

Popular Way to Assess Oil Spills Can Be Misused

May 28, 2008

Environmental assessment teams increasingly may be using a method to assess oil spill contamination in situations where it doesn’t work well and are in danger of reaching false conclusions, a scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has warned In a...

Protecting Public Health by Preventing Pollution

Protecting Public Health by Preventing Pollution

April 3, 2008

Growing up in Maine, Desirée Plata watched her grandmother suffer from illnesses that she suspected were related to trichloroethylene—a colorless liquid, used as a solvent for cleaning metal parts, that had been dumped in the area and had made its...

Making Nanotubes Without Harming the Environment

Making Nanotubes Without Harming the Environment

April 3, 2008

They are 10,000 times thinner than a strand of human hair, yet stronger than steel, more durable than diamonds, and able to conduct heat and electricity with efficiency that rivals copper wires and silicon chips. Ever since their discovery in...