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A Most Ingenious Paradoxical Plankton

A Most Ingenious Paradoxical Plankton

November 25, 2008

Everybody has a unique place in the world, a job to do, a niche to fill. When you are a tiny phytoplankter, your place is in the ocean, and your job is photosynthesis. Floating in a seemingly uniform environment like the ocean, how do you stand out and find your niche amid all the other…

Shellfish's Mysterious Pathways to Adulthood

Shellfish’s Mysterious Pathways to Adulthood

November 19, 2008

With a cool ocean breeze under a cloudless sky, children weave small sailboats through the channel. Larger boats scurry out of Waquoit Bay to fish in Nantucket Sound or spend a day at Martha’s Vineyard. Those not on the water are hitting tennis balls or relaxing by the beach. It’s a typical summer day at…

A Tag Fit for a Porpoise

A Tag Fit for a Porpoise

November 13, 2008

In 2003, Stacy DeRuiter arrived as a graduate student at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), where a new device developed at WHOI was sparking a revolution in marine mammal research: the D-tag. The cell phone-size digital recording device—affixed temporarily (and non-invasively) to large whales—has given scientists the ability for the first time to track whale…

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 pollutants in seawater are low and considered “safe.” When I entered graduate school I knew…

One Man's Swamp Is a Fish's Nursery

One Man’s Swamp Is a Fish’s Nursery

October 15, 2008

A parade of schoolmaster snapper swims by me, their neon yellow fins directing traffic. Echoing in the background is the rhythmic crunch of striped parrotfish nibbling on coral polyps. I’m chasing brightly colored coral reef fish through turquoise waters during a childhood vacation to the Cayman Islands. Back on land, the hotel I just left…

Corralling the Wild and Wooly Southern Ocean

Corralling the Wild and Wooly Southern Ocean

September 11, 2008

Matt Mazloff fishes out a postcard. It’s a simulated aerial view of the bottom of the world, with Antarctica in the middle and the tips of South America, Australia, and a smidgen of Africa peeking in from the corners. But it’s not the land that Mazloff is interested in. It’s the huge expanse of water…

Testing the Waters and Closing Beaches

Testing the Waters and Closing Beaches

September 3, 2008

On a warm, tranquil evening this summer, Falmouth resident Annette Hynes took a friend down to Wood Neck Beach. It is one of Annette’s favorite local beaches, with a long, lovely shallow slope, a grassy marsh and dunes, and rocks covered in periwinkles. That evening the women slipped into the cool water, finding it totally…

Biochemical Warfare on the Reef

Biochemical Warfare on the Reef

August 26, 2008

Just beneath the tranquil, clear waters of the tropical Caribbean, unseen by all but a few keen-eyed divers, two foes have engaged in a life-and-death struggle every day for thousands of millennia. Their limestone battlefield is peppered with a limitless variety of soft coral that look like easy targets for any hungry passerby. However, looks…

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 sea in the winter of 2005—her second cruise as a graduate student in the Massachusetts…

Antarctic Andrea

Antarctic Andrea

July 1, 2008

The sound of boots crunching on brick-red gravel filled the thin Antarctic air. Three scientists—geologists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)—had been climbing for 30 minutes, staring at their feet and trying not to stumble in the fine scree of lava pebbles. As the slope leveled off at the summit, the suddenness of the panorama…